Arizona dominates on Senior Day 42-16
TUCSON, Ariz. De'Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff and the Oregon Ducks won't have to worry about playing in the Rose Bowl.
Despite being huge favorites, the Ducks played a dud of a game on a rainy-then-sunny Saturday, and the Arizona Wildcats took full advantage to score quite an upset at Arizona Stadium.
Running back Ka'Deem Carey scored four touchdowns and became UA's career leading rusher, quarterback B.J. Denker made key plays on Senior Day and Arizona's defense made some stops as the Wildcats won 42-16 before 45,777, a crowd that got bigger as the Wildcats' lead grew and the weather got better.
"I'm not very happy," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "It's very frustrating. We put a lot of work into this. Our guys put a ton of work into this. There are guys very hurt in that locker room, who care about each other, this team and outcome."
Thomas and Huff each expressed disappointment before the Arizona game about having to play for only the Rose Bowl after Stanford's loss last week to USC and not the national championship.
"Part of that was ignorance, part of that was out of context, part of that was ... (the) way it was phrased," Helfrich said. "It's not representative of how anybody feels. That was never any bit of ... wasn't a team-wide deal at all. we've dealt with that. That had nothing to do with this."
But, because the Ducks (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) lost to Arizona, and because Stanford (9-2, 7-2) routed California in its final game, the Cardinal have won the Pac-12 North Division.
Oregon now stumbles into the Civil War game, playing host to Oregon State at 4 p.m. Friday. There won't be a fifth consecutive BCS game for the Oregon program, under the direction of first-year head coach Mark Helfrich. The Ducks could be looking at playing in the Sun Bowl far from the national championship that Thomas and Huff and UO coveted.
Arizona wasn't used to such wet weather and, with the Ducks coming to town, one would have thought the conditions would have favored the Ducks.
The crowd was sparse, too, as the game began, but the rain stopped and the sun started to peak through the clouds as the Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) began their successful day.
It was 35-9 after Carey's third touchdown run near the end of the third quarter. But the Ducks moved the ball and scored on Marcus Mariota's 2-yard TD pass to Huff, as Oregon drew within 35-16.
Threatened, the Wildcats bounced right back behind their senior quarterback and all-time leading rusher. Carey scored on a 1-yard TD run, the 49th TD of his career to set an Arizona record. It was 42-16 with 8:59 left and, even with Oregon's quick-strike offense, all but over.
Down the stretch, the Wildcats intercepted Mariota at the goal line to seal the deal, and he took a blow to the head making the tackle on the return creating some concerns about his health for the Civil War.
Mariota said he was fine, but added that he would have to talk to the training staff when asked if he might have a concussion.
The loss to Arizona "hurts. I've never been blown out like this in my life," Mariota said. "We have to bounce back. It's a short week for us. Tomorrow's our Monday. We have to fight and control what we can control.
"We just didn't make the most of our opportunites. Sometimes you miss those opportunities, you don't get into a rhythm. This offense is rhythm based. When you can't push the ball down the field, you put a lot of strain on your defense. This is what happens."
Carey finished with 206 yards on 48 carries.
"He can hit the holes at a high speed, and he always fell forward," Oregon defensive lineman Taylor Hart. "That's something that's not good for us as a defense."
Denker ran 14 times for 102 yards and completed 19 of 22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
"Carey was certainly as advertised as a ballcarrier," Helfrich said. "I thought Denker played really well for them.
"We have to turn the page quicklly and get ready for Oregon State."
Oregon managed to run for 198 yards, but still wasn't as consistent on the ground as it had been earlier in the season.
Thomas picked up 83 yards on 16 carries. He also caught six passes for 74 yards.
Mariota was 27 of 41 in the air for 308 yards and two TDs, with his first two interceptions of the season. He ran eight times for 52 yards.
Arizona converted 11 of 16 times on third down, and made its only fourth-down attempt.
The Wildcats scored all six times they got in the red zone.
"They were a better team," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. "They were able to run the ball with Carey and the quarterback, the thing we were most concerned about.
"Arizona did a great job. (The Wildcats) beat us at the line of scrimmage and by winning first down and making it manageable second and third downs. Carey and the quarterback were fantastic."
The Ducks trailed 28-9 at the half. Then, just as on drives in the second quarter that resulted in fumbles, they moved the ball early in the third quarter but failed to score.
Oregon crisply got to the UA 14 after Thomas Tyner's 14-yard run. But Mariota was stopped on first down and threw incomplete on second down. Thomas' nifty 8-yard run put Oregon at the UA 6. But, on fourth-and-3, Mariota soared a pass over the head of his receiver.
The Ducks got another defensive stop, but the Wildcats dropped Thomas for a 12-yard loss to force a punt.
Arizona took off another scoring drive. A chop block set the 'Cats back at first-and-25 at the UA 27. but Denker hit Nate Phillips for 17 yards on second down and then Arizona got a great break UO's Brian Jackson called for holding on third down, as Denker threw incomplete under pressure.
The resulting first down set up Arizona at the Oregon 42. Denker and Carey ran for 11 yards each, Denker later hit Trey Griffey for 10 yards and a first down, and Carey scored his third touchdown on a 9-yard TD run, as Arizona led 35-9 through three quarters.
More surprising than rain and street flooding in Tucson was the fact that Arizona led by 19 points at halftime, running the ball well with Carey and Denker, continuing drives with Denker completions and taking advantage of UO mistakes.
Down 21-9, the Ducks twice appeared to moving for points, making large chunks of yardage. But Tyner, playing for an injured Byron Marshall (foot), fumbled and then Mariota fumbled and the Ducks recovered but short of the first down.
So, Arizona had the ball at its 41 with 1:00 left, and went on to score its fourth touchdown.
Denker had big completions to Samajie Grant and Terrence Miller and Grant again for 21 yards to the UO 1. Carey scored his second TD on a 1-yard plunge, and the Wildcats led 28-9.
Things didn't start well for the Ducks, either. Mariota had his consecutive passes without an interception streak end on the game's first play, as his throw bounced off Bralon Addison, and UA's Shaquille Richardson tapped the ball back to teammate Scooby Wright.
The Wildcats marched the 45 yards to score on Carey's 6-yard TD run. And, sun started to peak through the clouds.
Thomas had a third-down drop on the next UO possession, and the Wildcats again marched to go ahead 14-0 on Denker's 9-yard TD pass to Phillips.
Some weird stuff happened on UO's next possession. Thomas made a sensational one-handed grab of a Mariota pass, and two plays later, Marshall appeared to score or at least run to the UA 1. But he was ruled down at the UA 6 on review, and suffered an injury. Tight end Pharaoh Brown got called for holding, and the Ducks had to settle for Matt Wogan's 33-yard field goal.
The Wildcats, led by Carey and Denker, wouldn't be denied on their third possession, either, going 83 yards on 16 plays and 6:12 of clock time. Denker threw a 5-yard TD pass to Miller, and it was 21-3.
The Ducks responded quickly, with the highlight being Mariota's scramble and then pitch to Addison for 21 yards.
The Wildcats forced fourth down, but Mariota hit Brown for a 1-yard TD pass. The Ducks tried to get tricky again on their extra-point attempt, but Arizona stuffed Wogan's run, leaving the score 21-9.
Oregon got a defensive stop, but Denker's quick punt went to the UA 4. The Ducks moved on four plays, but Tyner's 8-yard run ended with him being stripped by Tra'Mayne Bondurant, with Arizona's Jourdon Grandon recovering.
Another UO defensive stop was followed by more Duck yards, although the Wildcats forced fourth-and-2 at the UA 41.
Mariota was running for the first down when he fumbled; Thomas recovered, but the ball was spotted at the spot of the fumble short of the first down.
The Wildcats made the most of one minute remaining on the clock to go ahead 28-9.
OREGON 3 6 0 7 -- 16
ARIZONA 14 14 7 7 -- 42
ARIZONA Ka'Deem Carey 6 run (Jake Smith kick), 11:51
ARIZONA Nate Phillips 9 pass from B.J. Denker (Smith kick), 7:09
OREGON Matt Wogan 33 FG, 2:49
ARIZONA – Terrence Miller 5 pass from Denker (Smith kick), 11:32
OREGON Pharaoh Brown 1 pass from Marcus Mariota (run failed), 7:39
ARIZONA Carey 1 run (Smith kick), 0:18
ARIZONA Carey 9 run (Smith kick), 2:07
OREGON Josh Huff 2 pass from Mariota (Wogan kick), 14:11
ARIZONA Carey 1 run (Smith), 5:12