Ducks end Arizona's bowl hopes

By The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 12, 1996

The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA defender David Fipp, right, dives for Oregon's Saladin McCullough during the Wildcats' 49-31 loss to the Ducks Saturday in Eugene, Ore.


EUGENE, Ore. - Arizona's defense used to be known as ''Desert Swarm.'' Lately, ''Desert Sponge'' is more like it.

Oregon's Saladin McCullough found holes in the Wildcats' defense all afternoon in a surprisingly one-sided 49-31 victory Saturday.

The win snapped the Ducks' five-game losing streak and virtually ended Arizona's hopes for a bowl berth.

McCullough, who missed much of this season with injuries, had the third-biggest rushing day in Oregon's football history, gaining 223 yards in 25 carries and scoring five touchdowns.

The Ducks' all-time rushing record of 249 yards, held by Ahmad Rashad, was well within McCullough's reach before he pulled his right hamstring on his final touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

''He makes my job and I think everybody's job on the offense a lot easier,'' Oregon quarterback Tony Graziani said. ''He's going to be a great back in the NFL some day. I'm just glad I get to know him.''

Arizona had given up 116 yards per game on the ground this season. The Ducks, one of the top passing teams in the country, ran for 310 on Saturday.

The Ducks (4-5 overall, 1-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference) played with the kind of emotion that had been lacking throughout their disappointing season.

Arizona (2-4, 4-5), still shaken after a 56-55 four-overtime loss to California, couldn't match Oregon's intensity.

''This is a great lesson in what this conference is all about,'' UA coach Dick Tomey said. ''Oregon didn't like where they were. They had a lot of time to think about it with one game in four weeks, and they took a step toward changing that.''

Tomey met with his team for 50 minutes after the game.

''If you can't cover a kick, don't play defense and can't make fourth and one, it's hard to win,'' he said. ''We could find some excuses if we looked real hard, but I don't think any of them are worth anything. I just think the team with most pride won.''

Leading 28-24 at the half, Oregon kept the emotion by having its players go at each other one-on-one in the locker room. The Ducks outscored the Wildcats 21-7 in the second half.