Arizona wins ugly

On paper the Wildcats probably should not have been able to beat North Texas. The Wildcats struggled in all facets of the game yet came away with a 14-9 victory over the Mean Green thanks to an opportunistic defense and a big play on special teams.

Arizona scored just one offensive touchdown, missed two field goals, had two more blocked and ran 16 fewer plays than North Texas did. The Mean Green, one of the nation's worst offensive teams, ran for 282 yards and held the ball for over 31 minutes. They didn't punt for the first time until there was just 6:44 left in the fourth quarter.

Despite all of that the Mean Green could not cross the goal line and made costly mistakes that gave the Wildcats their two scores.

"We defend that end zone with a lot of passion," said Wildcat defensive tackle Young Thompson. "We bend but don't break."

Arizona's red zone woes continued early in the contest. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and marched down the field. The Wildcats took nearly five minutes off the clock as Jason Johnson hit five different receivers on the 63-yard drive. The drive stalled at the six yard line and the Wildcats came away empty when Don McGee got a piece of Sean Keel's chip shot field goal attempt which ricocheted harmlessly into the line.

"When you can't kick field goals and get points in the red zone then you did nothing," said Bobby Wade. "It's real frustrating."

The Mean Green took advantage of the stop and used a wide variety of plays to move down the field. North Texas used the option out of the shotgun to get a first down and then pitched to Ja'mel Branch, a wide receiver in motion, for a 20-yard gain to get them into Arizona territory. The defense stiffened, but Nick Bazaldua gave the visiting team the lead with a 44-yard field goal.

A short punt by Danny Baugher gave North Texas great field position on its next possession. The Mean Green started at the Wildcat 45 but needed a fourth down conversion to keep the drive alive.

Andrew Smith rolled out and hit a wide open Randy Gardner for a 25-yard gain. The nation's worst offense (on paper) continued to move the football using a good push in the middle and the option to give themselves a fourth and goal from the Wildcat two. North Texas sent Patrick Cobb right up the middle but Clay Hardt and Ray Wells met the sophomore runner at the goal line and kept him out of the endzone.

Another good North Texas drive saw the Mean Green work their way down to the Wildcat 15. Like on the previous two drives the Wildcats made a stop when they needed. Bazaldua's second field goal, a 32 yarder, gave the Mean Green a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

Just like their first drive the Wildcats moved the ball but once again stalled inside the ten-yard line. Arizona again settled for a field goal, but Keel missed wide right and the Cats were still looking at a goose egg on the scoreboard.

The option failed the Mean Green for the first time. Smith ran into a pile of Cats and Young Thompson popped the ball loose, which was scooped up by Hardt who stumbled to the North Texas 14-yard line. Mike Bell gave Arizona the lead the very next play when he scampered for a 14-yard score thanks to a huge hole on the right side of the line.

North Texas' offense continued to move the ball but - like their previous drives - could not seal the deal. The Mean Green got as deep as the fourteen but settled for another field goal. Instead of giving the upstarts the lead, the Arizona line got great penetration and Carlos Williams blocked the kick which Gary Love scooped up and raced 60 yards for the score.

North Texas began the second half just like they played the first half. They moved the ball effectively only to stall deep in Arizona territory. Galbraith racked up yards with inside runs and Branch took another motion pitch 24 yards. Like the first half, the Mean Green had to settle for their third field goal of the contest.

The Wildcats forced another turnover and made the Mean Green pay. Twice Johnson was given all day to throw and twice he was able to scramble and find a running back down field. North Texas aided the Wildcat cause with a pair of personal fouls that allowed the Wildcats to get inside the five. Like every other Wildcat trip to the red zone, the Cats were forced to kick a field goal, and - like every other trip - Keel was unable to convert a short field goal.

The Wildcats tried Bobby Gill as a replacement for Keel, but the backup kicker had his lone attempt blocked as well.

The Wildcats did just enough on offense and were able to run out the final 2:44 of the game to preserve the win.

"We didn't accomplish much, but we are 3-1," said Wade. "We hit our goal."

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