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Arizona-Oregon game blog: Ducks roll past error-prone Cats

Ka'Deem Carey

Oregon stacks up Ka’Deem Carey in the first quarter. Photo by Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona’s time in the Top 25 spotlight has come to an end.

The Wildcats crashed in Eugene after their 3-0 start, losing 49-0 to the third-ranked Oregon Ducks on Saturday night. A sputtering offense failed to convert in six red-zone opportunities, and the Ducks pulled away with a 36-point second half that included a pair of touchdown on interception returns.

Arizona, which was ranked No. 22 in the AP poll this week, returns home to play Oregon State on Saturday at Arizona Stadium (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

* * *

B.J. Denker comes in and immediately throws an interception returned for a touchdown. Oregon, 49-0. Let the clock run and head home, Cats.

* * *

The Ducks have scored again. It’s a 42-0 with 4:02 left in a game that could have been so much more interesting if not for UA’s squandered opportunities.

The Ducks have clearly established their superiority, but the tenor of the game would be completely different if the Cats had cashed in some chips early and/or made a couple of key plays in the second half.

* * *

To continue the theme: Arizona goes for it (why not?) on fourth-and-1 at the Oregon 14 … and doesn’t get as it, as Ka’Deem Carey is wrapped up short of the marker. That keeps the storyline simple: Six red-zone chances, absolutely no points.\

* * *

Matt Scott’s forgettable night becomes memorable for Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who picks off a pass along the sideline and returns it 54 yards for a touchdown. Oregon up 35-0 with 14:08 to go in the game.

* * *

Arizona’s time to compete has come and gone. The Wildcats dropped to 0-for-5 in the red zone, forced to go for it on fourth-and-12 from the 20. Matt Scott’s pass over the middle was intercepted, and the Ducks wasted no time in turning that seven points.

Making Oregon’s first true long play of the game, Marcus Mariota hit Bralon Addison deep down the middle for a 55-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

* * *

Jonathan McKnight comes up with his third interception in three games, breathing life back into the Wildcats. He INT and return sets up Arizona at the Oregon 35 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter.

* * *

Well, Arizona dares to punt to De’Anthony Thomas and pays the price, as Thomas returns a 56-yard punt 38 yards to the UA 37. On the next play, Marcus Mariota hits tight end Colt Lyerla for a 35-yard gain.

Two plays later, Lyerla stumbles into the end zone with 6:41 to go in the third quarter. Oregon converts a two-point conversion for a 21-0 lead.

Really shouldn’t have punted to Thomas. Punting it out of bounds would have worked fine.

* * *

Matt Scott just not sharp tonight. When he isn’t flat-out missing throws — like the one just now on a third-down pass to a wide-open Ka’Deem Carey — he is off just enough that the receivers have to make a difficult catch (if one at all).

UA can’t win unless Scott is great.

* * *

The first drive of the second half has the potential to be critical, and UA fails to cut into Oregon’s 13-0 lead. A holding penalty on RG Trace Biskin puts Arizona into a second-and-20 hole that it can’t climb out of.

On fourth-and-3 from its 47, Arizona goes with a rugby pooch punt from Kyle Dugandzic, who shanks it badly. The Ducks take over at their 35.

* * *

Arizona hangs around. Oregon has to take a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the half and takes a 13-0 lead into the break.

It could have been a different story if not for UA’s red-zone failures, but it also could be a lot worse. Kudos to the Cats defense for hanging in there against the high-scoring Ducks, who haven’t had a play longer than 18 yards.

Rich Rodriguez will have something to work with at halftime, and UA gets the ball to start the second half.

* * *

Key play: Oregon converts a fourth-and-2 from its 34 on a De’Anthony Thomas run with less than 3 minutes left in the half. A stop would have set up the Cats to score before half.

* * *

The Arizona defense bends but forces Oregon to settle for a 27-yard field goal attempt from Rob Beard. UA’s Jonathan McKnight nearly blocks the try coming off the edge, but Beard gets it away cleanly and puts it through for a 10-0 lead with 5:55 to go in the first half.

* * *

Arizona’s defense is doing an admirable job, but you wonder how long they hold back the floodwaters.

The UA offense continues to sputter, out of sync for the first time this season, and gives the ball back to the Ducks at the Oregon 29 on a fumble by receiver Johnny Jackson, who loses the ball on a hard hit while trying to hurdle a defender.

Officials had to review the play after originally saying Jackson was down, but they made the right call after watching replays.

* * *

Oh, special teams. It’s turning comical again, as Arizona misses AGAIN in the red zone, this time as John Bonano kicks low on a 31-yard field goal attempt, which is blocked.

Everything Arizona couldn’t do offensively … it’s doing.

* * *

Don’t you love college football? Arizona safety Jared Tevis, who spent two years as a walk-on, smashes SI cover boy De’Anthony Thomas — “The fastest man in college football” — and forces a fumble that UA recovers at the Oregon 35.

* * *

Oregon up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

* * *

Matt Scott

Matt Scott and the Arizona offense failed to put up any points in the first half. Photo by Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona goes to 0-and-3 in red zone chances in the first quarter.

Arizona had first-and-goal from the 2, then lost 2 yards as Ka’Deem Carey got stuffed, gained 2 back on a Carey run, threw incomplete into the end zone … and then, as coach Rich Rodriguez unsuccessfully tried to call a timeout, Matt Scott was stopped for a loss of 1 on a quarterback keeper.

* * *

Crisis averted. Matt Scott back in after sitting out two plays.

* * *

So, it’s B.J. Denker in at QB for Arizona after Matt Scott went to the locker room with an undisclosed issue.

* * *

It’s the Ducks who grab the early lead after Arizona’s missed opportunities. Marcus Mariota fires over the middle to Daryle Hawkins for a 17-yard touchdown to cap an 88-yard drive after the interception.

It’s 7-0 with 5:42 to go in the first quarter.

* * *

Starting nose guard Sione Tuihalamaka leaves the game halfway through the first quarter with an apparent leg injury.

* * *

Can’t do this against Oregon. Matt Scott throws an interception after the Oregon turnover, and the Cats go 0-for-2 in red zone opportunities.

* * *

The Arizona defense has come to play (at least for the first six minutes). Marquis Flowers delivers a big hit to Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, with the ball flying into the air like it was shot out of a toaster.

Reggie Gilbert recovers to the Ducks 11.

* * *

Kicking field goals against Oregon seems like a “loss” because you’re going to need touchdowns to beat the Ducks. But on fourth-and-goal from the 5, kicking a 22-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead seemed like a good idea.

At least it did right until holder Kyle Dugandzic bobbled the snap, and John Bonano was unable to get off an attempt.

Two possessions and no score? What is this … an SEC game?

* * *

Arizona won the toss and deferred the choice to the second half. Would have preferred the Cats to start the game on offense.

Well, never mind. Arizona holds as Oregon goes for it on fourth-and-2 from the its 39, and Sir Thomas Jackson throws QB Marcus Mariota for a loss on a broken play.

* * *


You’ll see them soon enough, but Oregon’s uniforms will look like this vs. Arizona.

* * *

Eric Dungy, the son of former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, is a sophomore wide receiver for Oregon. He has three catches for 30 yards this season.

Dungy could be a key player tonight. According to the Oregonian, speedy starting wide receiver Josh Huff will miss his second consecutive game because of a knee injury.

* * *

Arizona has a lot of work ahead of it tonight at third-ranked Oregon, while we also have the luxury of looking ahead.

Next week won’t be easy.

If you went down the Wildcats’ schedule before the season, you likely stopped at the Sept. 29 home game against Oregon State and considered that a probable win — or at least a game that the Cats had to win in order to get bowl eligible.

But the Beavers are tougher than expected and will be a ranked team when they come into Arizona Stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

Oregon State (2-0) opened the season with a win over Wisconsin and followed up with a 27-20 win at 19th-ranked UCLA on Saturday. OSU’s run defense is excellent; sophomore Sean Mannion (384 yards vs. UCLA) is a big, strong pocket passer; receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks have oodles of speed.

Arizona can worry about that later.

As for the Ducks …

* * *

We already posted our five things to watch on Friday and recounted the dangers of Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas, but here is one more critical factor:

First downs.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez somewhat jokingly bemoaned his team’s lack of big plays last week, when the Cats churned out a school record 43 first downs. Moving the ball slowly down the field sounds pretty good to him this week, keeping the ball away from the fast-paced Ducks, who tend to wear down defenses late in the game.

“This is the last team you want to get a bunch of three-and-outs with,” Rodriguez said. “This game is critical as far as getting first downs, keeping possession of the ball, and making every possession truly count.”

* * *

Oregon has averaged 50.75 points in its past four meetings vs. Arizona. New UA defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, in his 11th season as a coordinator, has never had one of his defenses allow more than 49 points.

That came last season in West Virginia’s 49-23 loss at Syracuse.

* * *

Some pregame reading:

–Here is my prediction on the Arizona-Oregon game

–Arizona WR Austin Hill ‘disappointed’ to miss rematch with Oregon’s Boyett

–Eugene Register-Guard: Oregon football pursuing excellence with Arizona on the docket

–Oregonian game preview: Ducks offense will be too much to handle

–Greg Hansen’s Mr. Football column

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