Arizona Daily Wildcat September 29, 1997
Wildcats 'can't do anything right'
PASADENA, CA - The Arizona football team has developed a habit in the early stages of the 1997 season which could get one in trouble faster than passing notes in homeroom.
The Wildcats spotted UCLA 20 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, but came back to within six at halftime.
Then Arizona repeated the feat in the second half by turning the ball over on its first two possessions inside the 20-yard line, which led to Bruin senior tailback Skip Hicks' third and fourth touchdowns of the day.
The Bruins went on to a 40-27 victory in front of 50,188 fans in the Rose Bowl.
Arizona head coach Dick Tomey was at a loss for words following the game.
"I just don't like the way we played today," Tomey said after a long pause. "We just can't do anything right."
The Wildcats fell behind quickly for the second straight week and were unable to get back into the game because of the continued inconsistency of their offense.
Quarterback Keith Smith left the game on the first drive of the second half after suffering a strained shoulder on a sack by Bruin linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo.
"I got hit and just wasn't expecting it," Smith said. "I am going to be evaluated this week and we will see how it goes."
Redshirt freshman Ortege Jenkins came in for Smith and played well but was still unable to mount any significant attack.
Adding to the offensive frustrating was that even the trustworthy Arizona defense failed miserably, after strong showings in their first three outings. UCLA gained 185 yards on the ground, primarily behind the straight-ahead running of Hicks.
Hicks scored four touchdowns and finished the day with 127 yards in 28 carries.
UCLA scored early and often, putting points on the board on all four of their first-quarter drives. Hicks started the scoring when he blew through the center of the line for an eight-yard touchdown to put the Bruins on top 7-0.
After Arizona went three-and-out on its first possession, Hicks again took a trip through the middle of the line for a 19-yard score. Chris Sailer added field goals of 36 and 42 yards in the first quarter to put the Bruins up 20-0.
Arizona got on the board late in the first quarter as running back Trung Canidate ran off the left side, cut back to his right and outran the UCLA secondary 67 yards for a touchdown.
Two drives later, the Wildcats cut the lead to six with a six play, 42-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard touchdown on a fade route to Rodney Williams from Smith.
The teams exchanged field goals late in the half and UCLA took a 23-17 lead into the locker room.
But nothing improved from the break, the Wildcats took the opening kickoff of the second half and turned it over on their first play from scrimmage as Smith had the ball jarred loose by Ayanbadejo and Bruin Larry Atkins fell on the ball at the Arizona four-yard line. Smith injured his shoulder on the play and did not return.
On the ensuing play Hicks swept off the right side for his third score of the game, breaking the school's career touchdown record and putting UCLA up 30-17.
With Jenkins taking over at quarterback after the kickoff, Arizona fumbled for the third time on their next drive as Canidate coughed up the ball and UCLA cornerback Shaun Williams pounced on the football.
Hicks turned that turnover into another score as he bowled his way into the end zone from 19 yards out for his fourth touchdown of the game - the fourth time Hicks has scored four touchdowns in a game. UCLA led at that point 37-17.
Sailer added a 23-yard field goal, his fourth of the day, late in the third quarter to make the score 40-17.
Arizona added a fourth quarter touchdown as Jenkins found tight end Mike Lucky in the end zone from five yards out to bring the score to 40-24. The touchdown pass was the first of Jenkins' career and the first for Lucky this season.
UA kicker Mark MacDonald connected on a 31-yard field goal to end the scoring.
Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt put the game into perspective after Tomey spent over 45 minutes in the locker room talking to his team.
"I don't blame coach for being like that," he said. "We just need to start working harder or we are going to be in more trouble than we already are."