Season-long questions about the Arizona Wildcats' play on the road were somewhat quieted on Saturday, as the Wildcats topped the Utah Utes, 34-24. The win gave Arizona fans some confidence in the team's ability to perform in hostile territory as the season winds down.
The night looked anything but promising from the start. Quarterback Matt Scott got the OK from the team medical staff to play, and he fumbled the ball on the first play. The Wildcats wouldn't score there, nor on the next drive when Carey coughed the ball up on the first snap of the possession.
Both teams looked desperate for a victory, and for good reason.
Finally, the game started to turn, and the bloggers credited the Wildcats defense, especially on their effort on a 4th-and-1 that began the offensive turnaround:
Where Scott struggled in the passing game, going 12-of-27 for just 160 yards, UA's defense held strong throughout. Take Utah's deep drive to the Arizona 4-yard line in the first quarter as proof -- the Wildcats stuffed John White on a 4th-and-1 to take the ball, the swing leading to a 44-yard John Bonano field goal to get the scoring off.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats pulled away, using strong performances on both sides of the ball to improve their record to 7-4.
And all of a sudden, all the road troubles dissipated. UA scored three times in the fourth quarter and also forced three turnovers on downs against Kyle Whittingham's team. It wasn't the shriveling defense and suddenly quiet offense of the Stanford game, nor the blowouts Arizona suffered against Oregon and UCLA.
Arizona's normally high powered offense was held to only a field goal in the first quarter. The second was far different. Both Utah and Arizona scored two touchdowns for a total of 14 points in the second quarter. After multiple lead changes, Arizona ended the half ahead of Utah, 17-14.
With Arizona up 3-0, Utah scored its first touchdown 12:10 minutes into the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Coleman Peterson. Three minutes later, Arizona answered with Ka'Deem Carey rushing one yard for the TD to give 'Zona the lead. Always a threat to run, Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott did just that with a 10-yard dash into the endzone. After the successful point-after, Arizona is up, 17-7.
Utah closed the gap with 3:45 left in the half. Travis Wilson threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jake Murphy for Utah's second touchdown of the quarter, bringing the Utes within three points.
The score stayed at 17-14 as both teams headed into the locker room.