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No. 24 Arizona Downs No. 9 Iowa, 34-27
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 09/19/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Sept. 19, 2010

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -

Nick Foles hit William Wright with a late 4-yard touchdown pass and No. 24 Arizona held its ground in the national spotlight with a momentum-swinging 34-27 win over ninth-ranked Iowa Saturday night.

Arizona (3-0) jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead behind a slew of big plays that included a blocked punt, Travis Cobb's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and an interception returned 85 yards by Trevin Wade for another score.

The Wildcats moved 72 yards in nine plays in the second half for the winning score, then sealed what they hope is a program-defining win with four straight sacks of Stanzi.

Foles threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-39 passing.

Iowa rolled over its first two not-so-challenging opponents by a combined score of 72-14. The road trip to the desert represented a little tougher challenge: a long-distance road game (over 1,500 miles) with a late start (9:30 Iowa City time) in hot-air-dryer heat (close to 100 at kickoff).

On top of that, the Hawkeyes were facing a talented Arizona team looking to prove itself against a big-school program in one of the biggest nonconference games in the 81-year history of Arizona Stadium.

The Wildcats were certainly up for it, producing one big play after another in a stadium-rocking first half.

Arizona held Iowa to a quick three-and-out on its first drive, then David Roberts broke through to block Ryan Donahue's punt, which Marquis Flowers recovered at the Hawkeyes 8. Three plays later, Foles hit David Douglas on a 5-yard slant for a touchdown that had the rowdies in red jumping and pumping their white pompoms.

Iowa was marching on its second drive, but receiver Marvin McNutt Jr. had the ball slip through his hands and it fell right to Wade, who had a clear shot to the end zone for an 85-yard score.

Barely five minutes into the game, Iowa was in a 14-0 hole.

The Hawkeyes kept plugging away on offense, moving 93 yards for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Stanzi to Jewel Hampton, the first touchdown against Arizona this season.

Then, boom! another big play: Cobb burst through a seam like one of the pregame fireworks on the ensuing kickoff and was gone, 100 yards for a touchdown that put Arizona up 21-7.

Tacking on two field goals by Alex Zendejas, including a career-long-matching 47-yarder, Arizona had a seemingly comfortable 27-7 halftime lead.

Seemingly.

Turning up the defensive pressure, Iowa stymied Arizona's offense in the third quarter - 58 total yards - and pulled within 13 points on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Stanzi to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Iowa came up with a big play of its own on special teams, recovering a muffed punt by Bug Wright at the Wildcats 18. Stanzi hit McNutt on a backpedaling touchdown pass at the edge of the end zone on the next play, making it 27-21.

Binns followed with his at-the-line grab and return for a score, only to watch in amazement from the sideline as the PAT wobbled away from the uprights. Then it was Foles' turn.

Getting the ball out quickly to avoid Iowa's strengthening rush, the junior completed 4 of 5 passes on the final drive, hitting Wright for the decisive score with 3:57 left. Foles finished with 303 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-39 passing, solidifying his - and his team's - place among the country's best up-and-comers.

"That was a big win for our program," said Tim Kish, Arizona's co-defensive coordinator.

One to remember.

Quick Take: Cats After the Game

Post-game Quotes from Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops

"I'm speechless right now trying to figure out what just happened out there. This win was great in a lot of different ways. We got to see the character of the players develop before our eyes. I'm really proud that everyone managed to compete, and when they were challenged, they challenged right back."

"Containing Iowa's run was huge for us. They're a very good team on their feet, and keeping that under wraps really helped us tonight. The two big turnovers we had allowed them to get back in the game, but our players answered. We answered in the first quarter, and we answered again when they tied us in the fourth."

"The block of the extra point was pretty significant for us. We weren't behind, and that helped our mindset. Nick (Foles) made the throws he needed to in the final stretch, and our front four did a great job at blocking, giving him the time he needed to get the ball off."

"Our ends did a great job tonight, and with a little more work on the middle, those ends will get better and better."

"The crowd noise was very important too, and it was important to get them off count. The crowd did a great job keeping them off count, and giving us a chance to get back. Our coaches had great plans on both sides of the ball tonight, and we were prepared to face whatever Iowa had for us.

"Special teams tonight were just okay. We didn't get the big punt we needed to. Iowa has some great kickers, so making that kick off return for a touchdown and get up 14 points in the first half was great. We made the plays we needed to make, especially the six sacks in the fourth, which was amazing."

"Our program is changing, and I don't know if people realize how good a team Iowa really is. We knew, and the kids knew."

"In the middle of the game, all the penalties let Iowa come back, but our defense continues to improve. Our middle linebackers are coming into their own, and our defense is starting to come together as a group, which is what we need in order to win. They're beginning to see the weaknesses of every call, and that is the key to keeping any opponent's offense under control."

"We are a different team inside and out this year. We have to earn our respect, and last year we lost some of it (respect) with some of our losses, and this will all be for naught if we don't start off conference play strong when Cal comes to town next week."

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