Unreal! Arizona beats UCLA 52-14

One team came in ranked seventh in the nation, while the other was a 2-6 football team, who couldn't win the close games. It should come as no surprise that the game was a blowout. What was a surprise is that it was two-win Arizona who dominated UCLA, defeating the previously unbeaten Bruins 52-14.

Arizona was the model of efficiency, scoring on six of their first seven drives, adding a punt return for a touchdown as well. They established the run, passed at will and dominated on defense. In their wildest dreams Wildcat fans could not imagine a better performance.

Arizona used misdirection early on and then just dominated the Bruins later. It was their best offensive performance since the 42-7 win over UTEP in 2003. In addition to scoring the 52 points, they rushed for a season high 315 yards.

"The running backs, Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris, were tremendous tonight," said Head Coach Mike Stoops following the impressive win. "They were running downhill."

It didn't take long for the Wildcats to get on the board. They opened the game using a lot of misdirection. Tuitama executed a great ball fake and found a wide-open Mike Bell on the right sideline for a 51-yard gain. Bell looked as if he had a chance to go longer, but the only tackler in the vicinity made him cut it back to the middle and he slipped.

Four plays later the Cats ran a reverse to Mike Thomas who tight rope walks the sideline before diving for the pylon and a 17-yard score.

"Willie (Tuitama) did a spectacular job running our offense," Stoops said. "He gives us a dimension that we haven't had. The defense has continued to play hard. I just couldn't be more proud of our effort tonight."

The Cats scored on their next three possessions. Tuitama used the misdirection again to free up a wide-open Brad Wood on the next drive. Wood hauled in a seven-yard pass, without another player within 15 yards of him.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales had been criticized of the play calling earlier this season, but today's game dispelled any doubters.

"Coach Canales is the man," put simply by Thomas after the game.

Tuitama and Thomas continued their "TuiThomas Connection". Tuitama hit Thomas on a slant and the speedster raced 48-yards for the score. A Gilbert Harris 18-yard run put the Cats up 28-0.

UCLA cut the lead to 28-7 with a 10-yard, Mercedes Lewis touchdown catch, but Arizona answered with a field goal before the half to put them up by 24 at the break.

Arizona was not done. They scored on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was finished off by a leaping Mike Bell run, that was reminiscent of Ortege Jenkins's "Leap By The Lake". Like Jenkins, Bell was turned head over heels and landed on his back in the endzone.

"The running game kept UCLA off tempo all night," explained Stoops. "That was the major difference in the game. Running the ball well usually gives us the opportunity to win."

UCLA stalled on their next drive and was forced to punt. Syndric Steptoe was deep to receive and looked dead to rights before he juked his way up the middle then down the right sideline returning the ball 63 yards for the touchdown put the UA up 45-7.

With 4:09 remaining in the third, Arizona scored their last touchdown of the night as Marcus Hollingsworth forced a fumble which bounced into the endzone. He would land on the ball making the score 52-7 following the extra point.

"We are learning how to play smarter football," Stoops said. "Our effort has been there all year; we just haven't played smart enough to win. We're learning how to do things right. This team is maturing. Obviously the new quarterback brings a whole new dimension."

UCLA was able to put another drive together as Drew Olson and Lewis connected for another touchdown catch from 16 yards out.

Arizona completely dominated this game and the fans stormed onto the field waiting on the sidelines with a good 2:00 left in the ball game.

"I'm obviously really proud of our coaching staff and players and everyone's effort," added Stoops. "It is so gratifying to see the kids play like that. The hard work paid off tonight. Everyone was prepared and played very well."

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