Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Arizona-UCLA game blog: Cats cruise

Nick Foles was 22 of 27 for 242 yards and three TDs in the first half. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona looked mighty fine in its first game under interim coach Tim Kish, leading 42-7 at halftime … and, well, the second half didn’t much matter.

Arizona won 48-12.

All areas of the team played well, with the offense getting its best rushing day of the season and the passing game doing its usual excellent work. The defense stopped UCLA almost all night, giving up some meaningless yards late in the game.

The special team unit leaves the game wondering where John Bonano has been all its life. He makes all eight of his kicks — six PATs and two field goals.

Check back after the game for stories and note and quotes …

What did you think of the game?

* * *
UCLA gets a safety when RB Daniel Jenkins is tackled in the end zone with Arizona backed up to its 1-yard line. That makes it 48-9 Arizona with 6:34 to go in a game that just keeps dragging.

* * *

Arizona’s announced attendance of 46,565 was its lowest at home since Oct. 2, 2004, against Washington State, which drew 43,579 at Arizona Stadium.

* * *

Even John Bonano’s bad kicks go in. He makes a wobbly, partially blocked, 22-yard field goal with 10:28 to go in the game. Arizona leads 48-7. Anyone see this coming?

* * *

QB Bryson Beirne comes into the game near the start of the fourth quarter to replace Nick Foles. Foles likely is done with a line of 26 of 39 passing for 291 yards, with three TDs and one INT.

* * *

John Bonano kicks a 41-yard field goal that is long and high and down the middle. What was UA thinking when not using him?

Arizona up 45-7 with 3:15 to play in the third quarter.

* * *

Arizona’s first mistake of the game? Nick Foles throws one up for grabs deep down field and is intercepted.

With a big Arizona 42-7 — and coming down off the adrenaline of the first-half brawl — there isn’t a lot of emotion in the stadium right now.

* * *

While only two players were ejected in a bench-clearing brawl — UA CB Shaquille Richardson and UCLA WR Taylor Embree — the conference can review the incident and impose sanctions to other players before the next game.

With so much happening on the field, it seems likely the Pac-12 will find other flagrant personal fouls. Expect both teams to be missing players next week.

* * *

Little-used senior CB Lyle Brown replaces CB Shaquille Richardson to start the second half. Richardson was ejected for fighting late in the first half.

* * *

Huge fight breaks out near the end of the first half, with the benches clearing and brawls breaking out all over the field. It started while play was stopped while security dealt with a streaker on the field, and a small group of Arizona and UCLA players started yapping and pushing.

Two players were ejected — Arizona CB Shaquille Richardson and UCLA WR Taylor Embree.

It’s halftime. Arizona leads 42-7.

The 42 points are a record for Arizona in a Pac-10/12 game.

* * *

Who are these Cats? Arizona scores ANOTHER touchdown, this time driving 59 yards, capped by an 8-yard stroll by Taimi Tutogi. It’s 42-7 with 1:09 to play in the first half. Enjoy.

* * *

Arizona CB Shaquille Richardson, after taking a bad angle to make a tackle, recovers to strip the ball from the receiver, with UA recovering at its 41.

It’s all going UA’s way.

* * *

Wow. Arizona is unstoppable on offense. Five possessions, five TDs … and five PATs! True enough that UCLA isn’t very good on defense, but the Cats are making it look sooo easy. The latest drive goes 79 yards, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Juron Criner.

Criner has three TD receptions, tying a career high, and looks like the Criner of 2010.

Arizona leads 35-7 at halftime.

* * *

The opponent, not Arizona, is struggling in the kicking game. UCLA’s Tyler Gonzalez — the former soccer team manager — misses a 39-yard field goal attempt.

* * *

Former UA tight end Rob Gronkowski, now of the New England Patriots, is at the game tonight and drew a nice ovation when shown on the videoboard.

* * *

Make it four possessions for Arizona. The Cats have 290 yards and a 28-7 lead after 21 minutes, 36 seconds. More impressive: four PATs in a row tonight.

* * *

Arizona gets the ball back on a turnover, which has been a rare occurrence this season, as defensive end C.J. Parish recovered a fumble by Johnathan Franklin.

* * *

Arizona, which was 119th in the nation in rushing, averaging 71.8 yards per game, gained 109 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter against UCLA. Many of the runs came out of the full-house backfield out of the shotgun formation, with the runners going right up the middle.

Keola Antolin and Taimi Tutogi are running with power, and Ka’Deem Carey has that 18-yard TD run.

* * *

Three possessions, three TDs for Arizona. This drive covers 80 yards and ends with a 7-yard pass to the left corner of the end zone to Juron Criner, who wrestles the ball away from UCLA CB Aaron Hester. Arizona leads 21-7 with 14:31 to play.

* * *

Arizona was 27-6 under Mike Stoops when leading after the first quarter. The Cats, who led UCLA 14-7 after the first quarter, are trying to go 1-0 in such situations under interim Tim Kish.

* * *

The Bruins strike back with a touchdown of their own, as coach Rick Neuheisel makes a gutsy call, going for it on fourth-and-5 from the UA 16. UCLA’s play works to perfection as QB Kevin Prince rolls left and then throws back to the right to a wide-open Johnathan Franklin.

UCLA cuts the lead to 14-7 with 2:53 to play in the first quarter.

* * *

Hey, how bad is UCLA?

That’s one interpretation after Arizona scores on its second possession to take 14-0 lead with 7:38 to play in the first quarter. Another possible interpretation: This team is playing without pressure after the firing of coach Mike Stoops.

Either way, the Cats look good … and Ka’Deem Carey’s 18-yard TD run, showing his speed and cutting ability to the outside, is one for the highlight tape.

* * *

Arizona DT Justin Washington, out two games because of a knee injury, was back in the starting lineup tonight.

* * *

One change on defense: Freshman Tramayne Bondurant starts as the nickel back. Arizona forces a three-and-out on UCLA’s first possession, although “force” might be too strong of a word, as QB Kevin Prince misses a wide-open receiver on third down.

* * *

Arizona scores on its first possession of the game — and here is something I haven’t been able to write since the NAU game — the Wildcats have the lead.

In fact, this is the team’s first touchdown in the first quarter since the opener vs. NAU.

It starts with interim coach Tim Kish making a good call and electing to receive after winning the coin toss. The Wildcats then drive 80 yards, running well out of the full-house backfield and throwing deep passes down the sideline.

The key play was a 26-yard yard pass to Dan Buckner on third-and-10 from the UCLA 30. One play later, a UCLA cornerback falls down and Nick Foles hits Juron Criner with the touchdown pass.

* * *

A sparse crowd at kickoff. About 6,000 in the Zona Zoon section. Maybe 1,000 on the upper deck of the east side. Tweets Jon Gold of the L.A. Daily News: “Really amazing firework display as Arizona runs out onto the field to the enjoyment of 14 fans.”

* * *

Athletic director Greg Byrne, who has said he wouldn’t talk publicly about the coaching search, is making an exception tonight. He will be talking live to ESPN during the game, although he said he won’t be talking about specific candidates.

* * *

TV viewers might notice a subtle change tonight to the field at Arizona Stadium. The grass is usually mowed to create dark and light patches at 5-yard intervals. Now, the field is mowed to create a diagonal checker-board pattern.

* * *

Tim Kish will make his debut as Arizona’s interim head football coach tonight against UCLA, adding intrigue and mystery to what otherwise would be one of ESPN’s worst Thursday night matchups ever.

The producer in the TV truck can’t even go to his default position — cutting to a shot of Mike Stoops on the sideline. That entertainment value is gone, replaced by Kish, who says he wants to exude “calmness” on the sideline.

Meanwhile, it’s UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel who is on the hot seat. The Bruins are 3-3 and are the only eligible team within reach of ASU in the Pac-12 South, although no one expects UCLA to make a serious run in the second half of the season.

Here are some players to watch tonight:

Arizona QB Nick Foles — The nation’s second-leader passer (375.8 yards per game) takes on a secondary that is without its best player, safety Tony Dye (neck), and safety Alex Mascarenas (concussion). He is the brother of former Arizona softball standout Toni Mascarenas.

UCLA QB Kevin Prince — With Richard Brehaut out with a broken leg, the oft-injured Prince takes over, trying to start and finish his first game this season. He suffered shoulder and head injuries in the opener before having to leave, and then was yanked after throwing three interceptions in the first quarterback against Texas. He is a bigger running threat in the Pistol offense than Brehaut, but at least Brehaut was taking care of the ball and not turning it over. Will Prince?

Arizona PK John Bonano — Can’t be worse than Jaime Salazar and Alex Zendejas, right?

UCLA PK Tyler Gonzalez — Might UA have an edge at kicker? UCLA, too, is using its third place-kicker of the season, after a hip injury to Kip Smith and the ineffectiveness of punter Jeff Locke. Gonzalez will get the call again after hitting both of his PATs vs. Washington State.

UCLA TE Joseph Fauria — Arizona has had trouble defending the tight end, and here is a 6-foot-8 problem for the Cats. Fauria has four TD catches this season.

Arizona WR Juron Criner — Should be fine after suffering a slight knee injury against Oregon State and not playing after the first quarter. His plans for a big year have so far been scuttled by injuries. Would be a good time to make a statement on national TV.

UCLA QB Brett Hundley — He was the headliner of UCLA’s most recent recruiting class. He hasn’t played this season but his redshirt is in peril because he’s now second-string after Brehaut’s injury. Coach Rick Neuheisel says Hundley is ready to play if Kevin Prince goes down, but will the Bruins have a package anyway for the athletic Hundley?

Arizona DT Justin Washington — Kish says Washington is back to his playing weight of about 280 after what coaches said was a summer stomach problem. Washington has missed the past two games after minor knee surgery but is expected to play tonight.

This will the post where we have our in-game comments and analysis, so keep checking back right here. As always, have your say in the comments section .. or fire away with any questions I can answer.

Search site | Terms of service