The 5th disaster
It's getting ridiculous.
That's about the only word left to describe the Arizona football season -Řa season that started with so much promise, but went down in flames somewhere along the line.
And it's still plummeting.
Arizona reached a new low Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore., when the team lost 28-20 to Oregon State.
It's only the third time the Wildcats (6-5 overall, 3-4 Pacific 10 Conference) have ever lost to the Beavers.
OSU (7-3, 4-3) is headed to a bowl game. The UA's last chance will come Nov. 27 at Arizona State. The winner of this year's UA-ASU game will go to the O'ahu Bowl as the Pac-10's last bowl representative. The loser goes home.
But if Arizona plays like it has in every other game that really mattered, the Wildcats will return to Tucson and spend the rest of the year in oblivion.
Against OSU, Arizona had 16 penalties for -157 yards and four turnovers. Over and over again, the Wildcats blew it at the most inopportune time.
"These areas have not recently become a problem," UA head coach Dick Tomey said. "We identified them earlier in the season and we have worked harder on them in the last month, but we've almost gotten an inverse result because of misspent energy. It's frustrating for a coach because we are the antithesis of a well-coached team."
Neither Tomey nor any of his assistants seem to have a solution to the fact that Arizona can't score inside the 20-yard line. They also can't seem to stop the UA from turning the ball over or to get the team to produce some turnovers.
Arizona has only five interceptions and six forced fumbles. In comparison, the opposition has picked off 13 passes and forced 10 fumbles.
"The penalties where there's a loss of poise, the personal fouls, are the ones that disturb me the most, but they all do," Tomey said.
There were four key plays that doomed Arizona against OSU:
UA got to the OSU 8-yard line only to have a holding penalty and then UA senior quarterback Keith Smith threw an interception.
Later in the second quarter, UA got to the OSU 6-yard line, but UA senior right tackle Manuia Savea picked up a personal foul that got the Wildcats moved back 15 yards and the team had to settle for a field goal.
The Beavers' first possession of the second half wound up being on the UA 4-yard line when the punt hit UA freshman cornerback David Laudermilk. Soon OSU was back in the endzone on a Jonathan Smith quarterback sneak to go up 21-13.
UA junior quarterback Ortege Jenkins gets intercepted by OSU's James Allen, followed by Simonton's third big draw play for 37 yards to the UA 3-yard line. OSU goes up 28-13 two plays later.
Arizona would pull to within 28-20 on senior running back Trung Canidate's 50-yard touchdown scamper, but UA would not pull any closer.
The Wildcats' final three plays ended in frustration:
Keith Smith's screen pass to senior receiver Dennis Northcutt failed on 3rd and 4, then Smith was sacked on 4th and 2. On the final significant drive, Smith fumbled and was tackled for a loss on 3rd and 10.
OSU ran out the clock and Keith Smith's last-second Hail Mary went past all the UA receivers as the Beaver faithful stormed the field.
"You are never quite as together as you want to be if you're not winning," Tomey said. "But the lifesaver in our conference is the rivalry game. The game is unifying and constructive no matter where you stand. It brings the team together and it gives the team a single purpose."