Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats come up short in Fiesta Bowl, lose 38-30 to Boise State

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Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez voices his displeasure of Anu Solomon late in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN screen shot)

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez voices his displeasure of Anu Solomon late in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN screen shot)

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The last play was appropriate for the afternoon, a bewildered Anu Solomon taking a tackle in bounds, allowing the last seconds to tick off the clock.

Boise State, more relieved than anything, openly cheered on the University of Phoenix Stadium field as the Broncos held on to win 38-30 after having leads of 28-7 and 38-20 in the game.

Instead of Solomon throwing the ball away, setting up a fourth down, the game came to an end. The 10th-ranked Wildcats finished their season 10-4 after losing the last two games of the season, both of them big-time games, to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and Boise State today in the Fiesta Bowl.

Arizona did an about-face from the first half, outgaining Boise State 296-74 in yards in the second half. The only score Boise State had in the second half was an interception return for a touchdown by Donte Deayon.

Solomon ended with decent numbers, completing 28 of 49 passes for 335 yards, but he threw two costly interceptions and was not on the same page with coach Rich Rodriguez for most of the game.

“We played hard but didn’t play well,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told KCUB (1290-AM) in the postgame show. “We didn’t execute and do the simple stuff.”

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One television camera view showed Rodriguez with an incredulous face running down the sidelines after approaching Solomon. Rodriguez might have not liked what Solomon told him. Nevertheless, Arizona came up short for a lot of reasons, including Solomon’s miscues.

The Wildcats started in too much of a hole, allowing a 56-yard touchdown run by Jay Ajayi on Boise State’s first possession. The second possession resulted in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Grant Hedrick to Chaz Anderson.

Hedrick completed his first 14 passes and was solid overall, completing 24 of 34 passes for 309 yards with a touchdown and interception.

“We didn’t even make it hard on him,” Rodriguez told KCUB. “He completed 17 of 18 and the one miss was a tip (that resulted in an interception by Cam Denson). It was like going against air for (Hedrick).

“The offense messed up some good field-position possibilities.”

Rodriguez showed his most displeasure over Boise State recording eight sacks.

“We need to get rid of the ball, get open, protect better … it’s embarrassing to have eight sacks,” he said.

Rodriguez told KCUB he told the team in the locker room that he was particularly proud of the seniors.

“I told the team the seniors did a nice job of setting the legacy,” he said. “There are a whole lot of ways of getting better. … If this doesn’t hurt, I don’t want them in the program. To a man, this is hurting them right now.”

Literally hurting are freshman running back Nick Wilson and senior safety Jared Tevis, both of whom did not play a bulk of the game because of injuries.

Wilson, who rushed for 86 yards on 19 carries in the first half, did not return after halftime because of reported concussion symptoms. Tevis reportedly suffered a serious elbow injury early in the game and did not return. His arm was in a sling.

Tevis was one of 19 seniors who played his last college game. Austin Hill is another, although his career will continue on Sundays next season. He finished with three catches for 25 yards today which gives him 150 career receptions for 2,305 yards.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride for us, winning games we should have lost and losing games we should have one,” Hill told KCUB. “We did win the Pac-12 South championship, which is a major accomplishment for the U of A.

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ARIZONA TFL LEADERS
Tackle for lost yardage leaders in Arizona history:

TFL Player Pos. Year
29 Tom Nelson DT 1968
30 Scooby Wright III LB 2014
27.5 Tedy Bruschi DE 1993
22 Rob Waldrop NT 1992
20 Bill McKinley DE 1970

ARIZONA SEASON SACK LEADERS

Sacks Player Pos. Year
19 Tedy Bruschi DE 1993
14.5 Tedy Bruschi DE 1995
14 Scooby Wright III LB 2014
13 Steve Boadway OLB 1984
12 Danny Lockett OLB 1985

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“It’s awesome for the senior class to take the team to the Fiesta Bowl. At the end of the day, the program is getting better and that’s our goal here. … I see this team getting better every year. I can see Arizona in the four-team playoff.”

Another senior, safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant had a career game, with a team-high 11 tackles with a sack and fumble recovery (which he forced). He also had a sack and two tackles for lost yardage.

Decorated linebacker Scooby Wright III finished with 10 tackles, including two tackles for lost yardage, which enabled him to set the school record with 30 this season. Defensive lineman Tom Nelson held the previous record of 28 in 1968.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales, also an author, is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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