Wildcats run away from Utah on Senior Day


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As Kaelin Clay sprinted down the far sideline towards the end zone, Rice-Eccles Stadium erupted as it appeared that the Utes were going to cut the Arizona Wildcat’s lead to 21-17 on his fourth punt return touchdown of the season.
Then everyone saw the yellow flag resting harmlessly on the soaked turf.
The touchdown was negated along with any chance the Utes had to challenge the Wildcats again as Arizona ran away from Utah in the fourth quarter on its way to a lopsided 42-10 victory over the Utes.
“That was the turning point,” Whittingham said. “If we do end up having that one stand its 21-17 and it’s a ball game. But it wasn’t to be and it kind of spiraled out of control form there.”
On senior day at Rice-Eccles Stadium, torrential rains poured over fans as they watched Arizona’s freshman running back Nick Wilson run rough-shot over the usually stout Utah front seven for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
“They were finding ways to crease us, usually the box is solid with our D-lineman and linebackers,” Utah safety Brian Blechen said. “Tonight, they [Arizona] did a good job and when we gave them lanes they capitalized on them and ran hard.”
Blechen and the defense didn’t receive much help on the other side of the ball, as the Utah offense played arguably its poorest game of the season. Turnovers, mistakes and missed assignments plagued the offense all afternoon long as they produced 384 yards of total offense, but were only able to score a measly 10 points
“One missed read or one missed cue by any one person on the offense creates havoc for us,” tight end Westlee Tonga said. “Everybody’s got to be clicking on all cylinders especially in this league and especially against a team like Arizona. For us as an offense, we didn’t go out there and perform well.”
Arizona did an exceptional job forcing quarterback Travis Wilson into tough spots in tougher situations. Whether it was from pressure off of blitzes, defensive backs knocking balls out of receivers’ hands or lineman batting down passes at the line of scrimmage, Wilson never had a real comfortable string of productive drives and ended the night with only 143 yards passing on 16-of-29 throws with two interceptions and a touchdown.
The first quarter was extremely tough for Wilson, going 2-for-5 for negative four yards and four straight three-and-outs to start the game on offense.
“We have to make sure we start out fast and not let that stuff happen to us again,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to blame the weather because both teams have to play in it. I can’t really pinpoint anything right now, but obviously it’s my job to start fast and I started slow so I definitely take the blame for that.”
Even with the slow start, Wilson and the offense were able to get some momentum from big plays in the second quarter. A 33-yard run off of the read option by Wilson put the Utes in position to make it a 7-7 game in the second quarter, but an interception in the end zone by Arizona’s Jourdon Grandon kept the Utes off of the scoreboard.
Utah had another chance in the third quarter to cut the Arizona lead to four points when it had the ball just outside the red zone, but a fumbled snap by Wilson led to a sack that knocked the offense outside of even Andy Phillips range and Tom Hackett was forced to punt instead.
Coach Whittingham was quick to accept the mistakes and said that his team was simply outplayed and outcoached on nearly every level.
“We’ve got to regroup, we’ve got one more game,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got a chance to win our eighth game in the regular season and that’s our goal is to try and get that eighth win next week. It’s by far our poorest performance so far, from coaches and players, so you move forward and regroup.”
The Utes will close out the 2014 regular season next weekend when they travel to Boulder to take on Colorado, who is winless in conference play.
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