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A Tale of Two Halves for Arizona Wildcats in Final Game of the Season

Coming into the Territorial Cup game against Arizona State, Arizona was considered a heavy underdog with a spread of 13.5 points. Eventually, ASU was unable to cover the spread winning 24-14, completely dominating the line of scrimmage in the second half.

Arizona’s defense came out firing at all cylinders, causing the ASU’s offense to go 0-for-4 on third-down conversion attempts in the first quarter. They were able to hold their opponent to 13-yards on the ground in the first quarter.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona struggled to get any consistent rhythm going. They had 64-yards on the ground on 11 rushes for an average of 5.8-yards a carry. However, special teams once again was a problem from the start. From a missed field goal to a 25-yard punt, special teams issues would become a consistent theme of the game.

Arizona State was the first to score from a field goal from Cristian Zendejas, who became the fifth Zendejas to make a field goal in the Territorial Cup. He finished the night with 10 of ASU’s 24-points going 3-for-3 on FG attempts and 1-for-1 on PATs.

Still, with all the offensive issues, Arizona held a 7-6 lead going into the locker room. They got the seven points from a busted coverage play, Tate was able to find Jamarye Joiner for a 48-yard touchdown pass. Outside of that, both offenses were held in check, making for a less than exciting 7-6 game at the half.

In the second half, Arizona State focused on their ground game and dominated the line of scrimmage rushing for 234-yards on 55 carries. To give you an idea, ASU only had 52-yards rushing at the half on 15 carries for 3.5-yards an attempt.

As if getting dominated on the line wasn’t enough, Arizona shot itself in the foot with costly turnovers in critical situations. When it was up 7-3 in the second quarter, it was able to move the ball to the ASU 24-yard line. With all the momentum, Khalil Tate ended up throwing an interception, mostly due to miscommunication between him and freshman wide-out Jalen “Boobie” Curry.

In Tate’s final game against ASU, he threw for 228-yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Like we have seen from Tate his whole career, it was a mixed performance from the senior quarterback.

The major bright spot for Arizona in this game was Joiner, who had his best game of the season, and maybe of his college career. Coming into the game, he led the team with 412 yards receiving while scoring three touchdowns. Saturday night, he had 7-catches for 140-yards and two touchdowns.

The overall takeaway from the game is that Arizona wasted what might’ve been its best defensive half all season long. Plus, Arizona has a long way to go in fixing its special teams issues.

So, Arizona finishes the season with an underwhelming record of (4-8, 2-7) losing seven straight games to close out the season. This is just coach Kevin Sumlin’s second season in Tucson with a record of 9-15 as the Arizona coach.

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