Oct. 21, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Nick Foles threw for 291 yards and connected with Juron Criner for three touchdown passes in the first half, helping Arizona overwhelm UCLA 48-12 Thursday night in its first game under interim coach Tim Kish.
With nine days off since coach Mike Stoops released from the university on Oct. 10, the Wildcats (2-5, 1-4 Pac-12) looked unstoppable, getting surprising lifts from their running game and defense to end a five-game losing streak.
Arizona ran for 254 of its season-high 573 yards and Taimi Tutogi ran for a pair of TDs as the Wildcats built a 35-point halftime lead.UA Coach Tim Kish
The Bruins (3-4, 2-2) couldn't withstand the emotion of a team playing under a new coach and may have put theirs in jeopardy with a lackluster effort. On the hot seat before the season started, Rick Neuheisel may have taken big blow with a loss that puts a serious dent in UCLA's bowl chances.
Within a half-game of Arizona State and USC in the Pac-12 South heading into the game, the Bruins came out flat against Arizona in front of a national TV audience.
One of the nation's best rushing teams, UCLA had 37 yards on 25 carries against a team that was 100th in the nation at 196 yards per game. Kevin Prince was mostly ineffective in his return to the starting lineup, hitting 17 of 35 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown.
The Bruins also lost a pair of fumbles in the first half and the defense had no chance at stopping the Wildcats - ground or air - as the game quickly got out of hand.
One of Kish's main goals was to make football fun again for the Wildcats, who had lost 10 straight games against FBS opponents and eight straight in conference.
They certainly enjoyed themselves against UCLA, scoring on all six of their first-half drives while scoring 42 points, their most in a half in Pac-10/Pac-12 play and more than any of their previous six games.
Keola Antolin ran for 77 yards on just eight carries, freshman Ka'Deem Carey had an 18-yard TD run and Criner finished with 10 catches for 101 yards to give Arizona its first win over an FBS opponent since beating UCLA 29-21 last Oct. 30 in Pasadena.
Neuheisel was concerned about Arizona's passing game and rightly so after Foles had thrown for more than 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns the first six games.
Foles did what he expected, hitting 26 of 39 passes while connecting with Criner on TD passes of 4, 7 and 25 yards in the first half.
What Neuheisel didn't anticipate was getting run over by the Wildcats.
One of the nation's worst rushing teams, Arizona carved out huge holes in UCLA's defense that Antolin, Tutogi and Carey had no trouble racing through. The Wildcats surpassed their season average of 71.8 yards per game after one quarter and had 174 by halftime.
H-Back Taimi Tutogi
Arizona also had been plagued by slow starts, left scrambling after being outscored 41-3 in the first quarter in its previous five losses.
No such problem this time.
Foles hit Criner on a 4-yard TD pass on the Wildcats' opening drive. Carey followed with a juking, dive-for-the-pylon score from 18 yards out.
Criner added his second touchdown by snatching the ball away from UCLA's Aaron Hester early in the second quarter. UCLA fumbled, Tutogi scored on a 1-yard dive, then Foles and Criner connected again, this time from 25 yards. Another Bruins fumble, another Tutogi touchdown run, this one from 8 yards out to make it 42-7 just before halftime.
Arizona Coach Tim Kish Postgame Quotes
"First off, it has been a very emotional ten days for us as a program. I'm very proud of our seniors, and how the stepped up into a leadership role. The team rallied around them, and really earned the win tonight. There were a lot of good individual efforts, but this was definitely a team win. I'm very excited about this win for the team, the university, and for Mike Stoops. This was really a tribute to the foundation that he built."
"We played the Desert Swarm (Double Eagle) flex, and I felt that the players had fun with the game. It fit into our defense against UCLA, and got a lot better with practice during this week. It was a great part of the learning process for us, and it's important that our players go through that in order to mature."
"When the second unit went in at the end of the game, I felt that they really needed to get that stop on the one-yard line in order to build up some confidence amongst the group, and I'm proud that they were able to make that stop."
"The effort that everyone put in today was tremendous, and my wish for the team when we left the team meeting at the hotel this afternoon was that they would be able to have fun playing football again, and that wish came true tonight."
"We really owned the line of scrimmage on offense tonight. We just kept pounding their defense and I'm very impressed with the improvement our run game had made."
On the second quarter brawl:
"Going into halftime, I wanted to make it clear that this was not something that we would condone, and that it would be addressed at halftime. As a team, without discipline, you have nothing, and I think the second half of that game showed the improvement in our composure. Sometimes incidents like this happen during lopsided games, but I told the team that if you learn from these mistakes and don't repeat them, you'll be successful."
"I was glad to have the opportunity to talk to Rick Neuheisel before halftime ended, because I wanted to make it clear to him that this was not something we approved of, and that it was addressed."
"The other part of our discussion at halftime was that we needed to start the third quarter strong in order to finish the game. Our offense started strong in the first quarter, and now our defense had the chance to start off the second half, and I was happy to see how they responded."
"We were very focused this week, and put ourselves in a cocoon, which we needed. It was a tough ten days, and we really rallied around each other. All I wanted was for us to go out and be successful, and that is exactly what we did."