The Cats felt this was a game they could win. Despite the lopsided score, the Wildcats did almost everything they needed to do to win. Arizona was able to maintain the time-outs, hold UCLA's running game in check, control the time of possession and run the ball effectively. However, penalties, third down conversions and Marcedes Lewis made the difference.
Olson and Lewis connected on three scores, overcoming the Wildcat defense which held the potent Bruin rushing attack to just 114 yards. Conversely, Wildcat runners piled up 258 yards on the ground, led by Mike Bell who ran for a season-high 134 yards.
Joining Bell in the rushing parade was Gilbert Harris who had 74 yards on nine caries and freshman Chris Henry who scored both Wildcat touchdowns.
As good as the Wildcat runners were, the Bruin passing game was better. Olson was 17-24 for 234 yards and the four scores. Lewis caught six of the passes for 99 yards.
Penalties aided the Bruins. The Cats committed nine first-half miscues, including three personal fouls and a defensive holding call that kept a UCLA drive alive that resulted in a touchdown. Wildcat quarterback Kris Heavner had modest numbers, but was plagued by bad drops. He had two sure long completions dropped and a third long bomb sailed long, but the receiver appeared to slow up as he struggled to find the ball in the sun. All told Heavner was 13-25 for just 93 yards. He threw an interception, but it came in the final minutes after the game was no longer in doubt.
Mike Bell started the game at running back with a six yard carry on the game's first play. Following a facemask penalty, Bell ran the ball 10 yards setting up a third and seven. However, a false start penalty set Arizona back. On the 3rd and 12, Heavner looked to pass but was sacked forcing an Arizona punt. Unfortunately, Danny Baugher's punt from the goal line was blocked. UCLA scored as a result of the safety making the score 2-0.
The next drive was pretty ugly for Arizona defensively as UCLA was able to move the ball extremely well. The drive resulted in a UCLA touchdown off a 28 yard pass by Drew Olson to Michael Pitre. Following the successful extra point attempt the score was 9-0 in favor of UCLA with 11:05 left in the first quarter.
Arizona's next drive was strong as Arizona got back to basics running the ball on 9 of 10 plays. Bell carried the ball 5 times for 32 yards in the drive. Bell finished with 134 yards on the game for an average of 6.4 yards per carry. This was a season high for Bell who did not lose yards on any of his 21 carries.
Gilbert Harris added 4 carries on the drive for 26 yards. Harris carried the ball 9 times on the game for a total of 74 yards. Like Bell, Harris never lost yards on any of his carries.
Arizona's drive brought them to the UCLA 19 yard line. Arizona decided to go for it on fourth down, but a delay of game penalty pushed the ‘Cats back to the 23 yard line. Nick Folk came in to attempt the 41 yard field goal which was good making the score 9-3 in favor of UCLA.
UCLA retained the ball to start the second quarter and started strong moving up to Arizona's 16 yard line before scoring a touchdown off a 16 yard touchdown pass by Olson to Mercedes Lewis making the score 16-3 UCLA. Lewis was the dominant UCLA player on the game with 6 receptions for 99 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Arizona's next drive began strong. Arizona ran the ball well to get a first down in UCLA territory. An offsides penalty on 1st down gave Arizona a first and five. Arizona shocked everybody with a handoff to bell who pitched it back to Heavner who threw it into the endzone for Syndric Steptoe. Unfortunately, Steptoe could not get to the ball.
Arizona then had two false start penalties and was forced to punt. The Wildcats were playing well up until the penalties which hurt them all game. It was this drive which proved what Stoops has said all along.
"We are not good enough to play behind the chains," said Stoops in the past.
Both teams moved the ball well in their final drives of the half. Arizona was forced to punt due to a clipping penalty on a long pass to Steptoe which would have put Arizona into field goal position. The penalty instead put Arizona back to their own 36 yard line. Though they almost got the first down off a 19 yard run by Bell, they were forced to punt.
UCLA however moved the ball better. Using up 4:13 off the clock and scoring off a 12 yard touchdown pass from Olson to Lewis. With 0:50 left in the half Arizona would get the ball trailing 23-3 but would be unable to produce a score.
Arizona began the second half strong forcing a UCLA 3 and out before punting. Following the defensive stand, Arizona had a strong drive. Both Bell and Harris added in some nice runs, but a 25 yard pass by Heavner to Mike Jefferson to start the drive put Arizona at the UCLA 37 yard line, which opened up the offense.
Arizona was able to get up to the 7 yard line on the next few plays then got up to the one yard line. On third down, Chris Henry ran the ball into the endzone for his first career touchdown. It was the first rushing touchdown for Arizona since the NAU victory. Folk made the point after making the score 23-10 UCLA.
Henry was used as a diversion on the touchdown run. With both Bell and Henry out on the field the UCLA defense closed in on Bell and Henry was able to break free for the touchdown. The moment the ball left Heavner's hands he knew Henry was in for a touchdown throwing his arms up in the air.
Henry ended the game with 8 carries for 55 yards, once again never losing yards on a carry. It was Henry's strong carries and 2 touchdowns which really gave Arizona a chance in the game.
UCLA responded strong however moving the ball on the ground up to the Arizona 18 yard line. On the next play, Olson threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Lewis. It was Lewis' third touchdown of the game. Following the extra point UCLA led 30-10 with 5:31 left in the game.
Henry did not show much in the first half, but following his touchdown run he had a renewed confidence in himself. Following the good extra point, Arizona pulled within 13 points making the score 30-17 with 0:51 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was quiet as both teams couldn't do much offensively. Arizona had the ball with the clock winding down and on 4th and 10 with 5:50 left, Arizona needed to go for it. Instead of setting up a play, the ‘Cats opted for the fake punt and were unable to convert the first, giving UCLA good field position with over five minutes left.
On fourth and one at the 2 yard line, the Bruins went for the touchdown to assure themselves the victory. Chris Markey took the pitch and got into the endzone. Following the extra point the score was 37-17, and they game was put out of reach of Arizona.
Arizona was unable to move the ball on their next possession as Heavner threw an interception with 1:13 left in the game. It was the game's only turnover. UCLA would run out the clock in two plays and come away with the victory.
Arizona did nearly everything they needed to do to win this game. They controlled the clock for much of the game, they did not waste a single timeout, they had only one turnover, they ran the ball extremely well, they put up more points than they had recently, and they stopped UCLA's run.
Unfortunately, Arizona lacked in two key areas which they did not believe would be much of a factor in the game. Arizona's passing game faltered. Throwing many good long passes that could not be hung onto by the receivers hurt the ‘Cats. In addition, Arizona was unable to stop UCLA's passing game. Olson went 17 for 25 for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns. It is hard to beat a team with those kinds of statistics.
Arizona now must look ahead to Oregon next week where they will travel to Eugene to take on the Ducks. However, Arizona looked much more solid offensively in today's game than they had in the past which is a credit to Coach Mike Canales, who was very proud of the players after the game.
"I thought we had a good plan," Canales said