Arizona Athletics

Behind Tate Arizona rallied, then faded in loss to Purdue

First the good news involving the University of Arizona football program as it pertains to Wednesday night’s game with Purdue in the Foster Farm’s Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.

Sophomore sensation Khalil Tate threw for a personal-best five touchdowns, the most by a Wildcat in any bowl game.

The bad news? Arizona lost 38-35, failing to score on its last possession when Tate threw an errant pass that resulted in an interception.

Khalil Tate eludes a Purdue Boilermaker in the Foster Farms Bowl game. UA lost 38-35. (photo courtesy Arizona Athletics)

The good news? Arizona’s defense, porous in the first half in giving up 31 points, gave up just seven in the second half. UA had stopped Purdue seven times in the second half.

The bad news? It was the game-winning seven points and all the Boilermakers needed to get the win.

“They made one more play than we did at the end to win,” coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters after the game. “It’s pretty simple. Give them credit but I’m also pretty excited about the future.”

The good news? Arizona dug itself out of a major hole in the second half, scoring 17 consecutive points to take a lead at 35-31 in the final minutes. It was a mini-microcosm of the season.

“It wasn’t that difficult; we have a bunch of resilient guys in our locker room,” said Shawn Poindexter, in the postgame radio show in talking about the halftime speech and the team’s will to get back in it. “We work hard and never give up. He kept our head down and didn’t pay attention to what everyone else was saying. We just played our asses off.”

The bad news? It was a mini-microcosm of the season, one where UA fell back early then had to rally to get back in it, only to fall in the end.

The good news? Tate threw for 302 yards and all those touchdowns, showing he’s much more than just about his running.

The bad news? He had to do it because Purdue limited him to a season-low 58 yards on 20 carries. No team had done such a job on the elusive Tate.

And, Arizona’s much-talked about running game was limited to just 128 yards. Arizona never made it to the red zone, as all its scores came from beyond the 20 yard line.

Strange, but true.

But it was that kind of game, where it was fooled – or misled – at the end of the first half when Purdue used a fake take-a-knee play that helped Purdue add three points to its halftime score. UA says the officials told them it was a kneel play and not to rush the play.

“What happens a lot of the time on a kneel-down is when a team gets into a kneel formation, an official will tell the defense not to rush,” Rodriguez said told reporters after the game. “They’re taking a knee so don’t rush. Don’t hit them. They told our defensive guys that they’re taking an knee so don’t rush. Just stand there. Our guys complied with that and Purdue ran the trick play. My argument would be if our players are complying with an official’s error, which in my opinion it was, then it’s a no play. Maybe I don’t know the rules but if you comply with what an official does and it’s an officiating error because he told them not to move, correct it. That’s my opinion.”

And so the season ends. It was an interesting season where Tate rejuvenated the Arizona fan base in October with four consecutive wins, only to lose four of the next five to end 7-6 overall.

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