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Juron Criner has solid return from appendectomy

Stanford's Johnson Bademosi breaks up a pass intended for Juron Criner in the fourth quarter. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats receiver Juron Criner narrowly missed making a couple of spectacular plays against Stanford, but, overall, it wasn’t a bad night for a guy 12 days removed from arthroscopic surgery to remove his appendix.

Criner caught six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in a 37-10 loss to Stanford on Saturday night.

“I thought Juron made some nice plays,” coach Mike Stoops said.

“It’s good to get him back out there, but I think there were some plays that had he been working (in practice), he would have made. He’ll get better. I thought he reacted well and moved around pretty well.”

Criner had three catches for 34 yards on UA’s only touchdown drive. He finished it off with a 6-yard reception.

He nearly scored again on the final play of the first half, as Stanford inexplicably covered him man-to-man in a throw-deep situation from the Cardinal 43. Quarterback Nick Foles went to Criner down the left sideline and into the end zone; cornerback Johnson Bademosi, trailing Criner by a step, pulled down Criner’s right arm, drawing an interference penalty.

Criner nearly made the catch anyway as he tried to trap the ball against his body with his left arm.

Early in the fourth quarter, after Stanford had taken a 30-10 lead, Criner took a screen pass over the middle and then seemingly rolled over center Kyle Quinn, without touching the turf, as he was tackled. Criner got up and continued running while everyone else stopped, apparently scoring on an 80-yard play.

It was called back and reduced to a 9-yard play, however, when replay officials ruled — correctly — that his elbow had hit the grass.

Criner, who missed the bulk of practice last week, should be able to get back into a more usual routine this week in advance of the Stanford game.

“It was nice to have him back out there,” Foles said. “He’s such a big target.”

Criner, as has been the case since the summer when he dealt with what Stoops called “personal and family issues,” did not make himself available for interviews.

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