It was over early. Maybe just one play in when Arizona starting quarterback Grant Gunnell was tackled on what was a 2-yard completion.
Or maybe it was over when UCLA scored 20 consecutive points in the first half to take a 20-7 lead into halftime.
Or, well, when Arizona muffed a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter that would have put the Cats within one touchdown in the Rose Bowl.
All three and, well, likely more played a part in Arizona losing 27-10 to the host Bruins in Pasadena, California.
And now, Arizona has lost 10-consecutive games, adding to the already frustrating school record for consecutive losses.
“Obviously, it had an effect,” UA coach Kevin Sumlin said, referring to Gunnell being replaced by second-stringer Will Plummer. “… There’s always an effect when the guy who hasn’t played (goes in).”
Sumlin called it a “learning curve” and that “you do get a little handcuffed” playing a guy who hadn’t taken as many reps as the starter. Such is Arizona’s luck this 2020.
If luck is what you want to call it. Maybe it’s called bad luck or untimely circumstances. Here it is again. Arizona is now 0-3 with Colorado up next.
Going into Saturday’s game many thought if Arizona was going to break any losing streak this would be the game to do it. UCLA looked vulnerable, given it had nine players out under COVID-19 precautions. And it was playing against a backup quarterback.
But, that wasn’t the case. Arizona will board the plane and return with, um, another loss. Just moments after Sumlin gave the team another speech about having to get better.
“Everyone in that locker room is frustrated, right?” Sumlin said. “The overall message is we have to come back and gotta go to work. You have to trust in yourself and trust in each other. The only way to climb out of this thing is to get to work and keep working.”
Sumlin said his team needs to find some consistency and to believe in what he said in the post-game speech.
“You can’t waiver there and it starts on Monday,” he said.
Until then, Arizona will lament two situations … likely more.
Arizona went for it on fourth down in the first half and couldn’t pick up the first down and UCLA proceeded to score to make it 17-7.
And a muffed the snap by holder Jacob Meeker-Hackett prevented Arizona from closing the gap to 20-13 with plenty of time left in the game.
“It was another big play in the game because it’s one a one score game,” Sumlin said, “with time left to have a chance to tie or win. Psychologically it’s difficult but it’s part of the game. You gotta fight through that.”
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