Another comeback comes up short

Arizona had high hopes of pulling off the upset against #12 Purdue tonight in front of an official sell out crowd of 56,400, but they struggled once again in the third quarter and fell to the Boilermakers 31-24.

Arizona forced a three and out on Purdue's first drive, but Purdue went to the option on the second drive and moved the ball 80 yards in 1:22 before running back Jerod Void ran up the middle 55 yards for the touchdown giving Purdue a 7-0 lead following the successful PAT by Ben Jones.

"Next to USC, this is probably the best competition we'll see," said Head Coach Mike Stoops. "(Purdue) is a very good team."

Arizona got the ball back and appeared to be extra motivated following Purdue's TD. Arizona began the drive with a 27 yard pass to TE Brad Wood, followed by an 11 yard pass to Mike Bell. Richard Kovalcheck then said hello to the ground for the first time of the season being sacked for a loss of eight. Arizona made up some ground on third down with a pass to Bell over the middle for 14 yards bringing up 4th and 2 from Purdue's 34 yard line.

This time nobody would be arguing whether or not Stoops should have gone for it. The Cats converted the play passing to Wood over the middle for the 34 yard TD. Nick Folk nailed the PAT and Arizona tied the game up at 7-7.

"Brad Wood gets good match-ups with the linebackers and he is a nice option for us," Stoops said. "We just have to keep him moving around."

A few drives later and Purdue struck again on the strength of strong running by Kory Sheets. A 44 yard pass to Dorien Bryant brought them deep into Arizona territory and Sheets would run it in 14 yards for the TD two plays later, making the score 14-7 with the PAT.

"On defense we were not consistent; we gave up too many plays," Stoops added.

Arizona missed on a great opportunity moving it down to the Purdue 23 yard line, but a false start and loss of six yards due to a sack set Arizona back to the 34 yard line. On forth down Folk came in to attempt a 51 yarder and he drilled it. The kick was two yards shy of his career best. With 12:20 left in the first half, Arizona cut into the lead, making the game 14-10 in favor of Purdue.

Purdue responded to the field goal running it all but one play which was a 21 yard pass, before Void scored his second TD of the game running it up the gut one yard. That made the score 21-10 with 7:45 left in the half.

It seemed as though the UA had put themselves into a tight spot, but they broke out of it using strong defense to get the ball back at the 45 yard line. Bell had a strong run and on first and goal from the eight Kovalcheck threw a beautiful pass to Wood in the endzone for his second TD of the game. Folk nailed the PAT and Arizona went into the locker room only trailing 21-17.

The UA struggled running the ball on the night only tallying nine rushing yards for the game.

"The ability to move the ball and run it hurt us tonight; we didn't do that very well," said Stoops.

Arizona went three and out to start the second half, but Marcus Hollingsworth intercepted a pass which could have been a huge play for the Boilermakers. It was the UA's first INT of the season, but was unable to do anything with the ball.

"We played behind the chains too often and our lack of balance on the field hurt us," Stoops said. "We missed a lot of screens and could not run the ball well."

With 3:41 left in the third, Purdue scored another TD to make the score 28-17. Arizona was unable to hold them on 2nd and 14 in Purdue territory and a 46 yard pass play to Dorien Bryant brought Purdue down to the three before Void ran in the touchdown.

Arizona struggled on their next drive, but rather than punting they ran a fake punt that ended up with a loss of two yards. Not the best idea on their own 35. Purdue would make a 47 yard FG on fourth down to make the score 31-17.

The third quarter spelled trouble for the Cats as they gave up 10 points and failed to score and penalties really set the UA back all game. The most obvious error of the game came when Syndric Steptoe fumbled a punt which would have given Arizona excellent field position in the game.

"We had some bad penalties as well, but we only had one big error- the fumble on the punt really hurt us," said Stoops.

It looked as though the UA was not even going to make a game out of it in the second half, but on a strange play on 3rd and 9, Anthony Johnson tipped the ball and Wood dove out for the catch. Two plays later and Johnson was receiving a TD pass from Kovalcheck. Folk nailed the PAT making the score 31-24 with 10:50 left in the game.

Arizona held Purdue and with nearly two minutes left, Kovalcheck looked to run the offense 85 yards to tie up the game. In one instance there was a perfect pass to Mike Thomas which would have been a TD but he dropped it. Arizona marched down the field before Kovalcheck threw his only INT of the game trying to make things happen, and Purdue held on to win.

"I'm obviously very proud of the team," added Stoops. "Congratulations to Purdue. This was a very tough football team that we played against."

Wildcat Authority Top Stories