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September 16, 2007Arizona had too many mistakes and costly penalties as the Wildcats lost 29-27 to New Mexico on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.
The offense was not the problem but the defense was certainly a disappointment and New Mexico's first drive of the night was a good indicator of the troubles the Wildcats would face throughout the night.
New Mexico started out with a 6:38 second drive, capped off by a Donovan Porterie six-yard touchdown pass to Travis Brown to give the Lobos a 7-0 lead.
Sophomore Devin Ross returned the ensuing kickoff 29 yards to Arizona's 32-yard line to begin the Wildcats' first drive of the night.
Junior Willie Tuitama passed to sophomore Terrell Turner for a six-yard gain to start the drive. That was followed by a 16-yard rush by senior Chris Jennings and a 21-yard pass from Tuitama to Turner on the following play put Arizona on New Mexico's 25-yard line.
However, the drive would stall with three incomplete passes and Arizona would be held to a junior Jason Bondzio field goal to make the score 7-3.
On New Mexico's second drive, Arizona's defense made the Lobos look like a repeat of the first would not be easy. New Mexico went three and out and the Wildcats took the ball and momentum to its own 47-yard line.
After a Jennings two-yard rush, Tuitama passed to junior Mike Thomas for a nine- yard gain. After rushing for four more yards, Jennings caught a nine-yard pass to bring Arizona to New Mexico's 29-yard line.
Following an incomplete pass and a ten-yard penalty, Tuitama found Turner for a 39-yard touchdown and the extra point by Bondzio gave Arizona the 10-7 lead and control of the game.
After both teams were forced to punt on ensuing possessions, Arizona took the field on offense at the 12:35 mark of the second quarter. Sophomore Xavier Smith started the drive with a four-yard carry. Turner than struck once again in the first half with a 27-yard gain to put Arizona at New Mexico's 39-yard line.
Smith ran for a 10-yard gain and a New Mexico penalty on the next play put Arizona on the Lobos' 24-yard line. Once again, however, Arizona's drive stalled and the Wildcats were forced to settle for a Bondzio 42-yard field goal to make the score 13-7.
On New Mexico's next drive, a 15-yard penalty by Arizona gave New Mexico the ball at its own 48-yard line. However, two plays later senior Wilrey Fontenot would intercept a Porterie pass and seemingly give Arizona plenty of momentum at its own 46-yard line.
After a Smith one-yard gain, Jennings ran for six. On the following play, Tuitama hit Delashaun Dean for a 33-yard gain. In what had become somewhat of a pattern, Arizona's drive stalled once again at New Mexico's 15-yard line. Bondzio, however, would miss the 32-yard field goal and Arizona's lead would stand at 13-7.
New Mexico would have the last drive of the half and after two passes for a first down and an unsportsmanlike conduct on Arizona's bench, the Lobos would have the ball on Arizona's 27-yard line.
After a sack by senior Jason Parker and a five-yard penalty, it seemed that Arizona would go into the half with the lead. Instead, Porterie hit Brown for a 38-yard touchdown to give New Mexico the 14-13 lead at the half.
Arizona looked as if it would score on its opening drive of the second half. After five plays, Arizona found itself with a 2nd and 29 situation, but a 27-yard pass to senior Anthony Johnson and nine-yard completion to Turner gave Arizona a first down at New Mexico's five-yard line.
Unfortunately for Arizona, Tuitama would fumble two plays later at New Mexico's two-yard line to give the Lobos the ball.
Eight plays later, New Mexico would hit a 31-yard field goal to increase the Lobos' lead to 17-13.
Arizona was forced to punt on the next drive and freshman Keenyn Crier's 25-yard punt gave New Mexico great field position at its own 31-yard line.
After a handful of small plays, Porterie and Marcus Smith connected for 14 and 21-yard passs to give the Lobos the ball at Arizona's nine-yard line. After a five-yard penalty followed by a six-yard run by Robert Ferguson and a three-yard pass to Matt Quillen, Arizona forced a fumble and junior Ronnie Palmer recovered to give the UA the ball at its own one-yard line.
Any momentum Arizona gained would not last because three plays later Tuitama was called on an intentional grounding call in the end zone for the safety and two more points towards New Mexico to give the Lobos the 19-13 lead.
Due to the safety punt, New Mexico started on its own 41-yard line and once again took advantage of strong field position. A 32-yard pass to Brown put New Mexico on Arizona's 27-yard line and three plays later, Porterie connected to Smith on a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New Mexico complete control with the 26-13 lead.
Arizona would make things interesting when, after gaining a first down, Tuitama connected with Thomas on a 43-yard pass. Two plays later Tuitama hit Johnson for a 11-yard gain and two plays after that, Thomas found the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Tuitama.
After forcing New Mexico to punt, Arizona got the ball at the 10:22 mark of the fourth quarter. Tuitama connected with Jennings for a 12-yard gain and then connected with Thomas for 48 yards to give the Wildcats the ball on New Mexico's 26-yard line. In yet another unfortunate turn of events for Arizona, Jennings fumbled on the next play to give New Mexico the ball back.
Six plays later, John Sullivan kicked a 44-yard field goal to increase New Mexico's lead to 29-20.
Arizona did not go quietly, however, as Tuitama did well on the next drive. He connected with Johnson for a 13-yard pass, Thomas for a 12-yard gain, and Johnson for a 17-yard gain.
Three plays later New Mexico committed a 15-yard penalty and Tuitama answered with a six-yard pass to Johnson. On the next play, Arizona capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Thomas and the extra point made the score 29-27.
Arizona once again forced New Mexico to punt, but a Tuitama interception by Frankie Solomon with 1:47 to go would end any hope Arizona had.
Arizona's record fell to 1-2 and the Wildcats will open up the Pac-10 season next Saturday with a game at #8 California.
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