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Analysis: Wildcats demonstrate domination

By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, November 7, 2005
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A dictionary definition for “domination” is “exercise of mastery or ruling power.”

In the wake of Arizona’s 52-14 trouncing of No. 14 UCLA, a more modern definition might read, “Arizona vs. UCLA: Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005.”

Arizona began the night by winning the opening coin toss, deferring possession to UCLA and proceeded to win everything thereafter.

“We were most prepared for this game, more than any other game,” said senior running back Mike Bell.

That preparation showed early. Very early.

The Arizona defense forced a UCLA punt on the Bruins’ opening possession, bringing on the Wildcat offense and freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama, his first start at Arizona Stadium.

His first pass? A 51-yard play to a wide-open Bell, which helped set up a 17-yard end-around touchdown run for freshman wide receiver Mike Thomas.

“(The pass play) worked all week in practice,” said Bell, who finished with 153 yards on 16 carries. “We knew come game time, it was going to be really big.”

That first Arizona possession set the tone for what would be a night of memorable plays before a Homecoming crowd of 55,775.

The Wildcats made everything look easy on both sides of the ball in the first half, holding the Pacific 10 Conference’s second-best scoring offense (44.4 points per game entering Saturday) scoreless its first five possessions, while suffocating running back Maurice Drew en route to a season-low 41 yards on 12 attempts.

“The (offensive) tackles had some great keys. You could tell when they were going to pass,” said senior defensive end Copeland Bryan, who broke into the Bruin backfield twice to bury Bruin quarterback Drew Olson. “Their tackles were really oversetting and putting themselves into a position to launch off. (The offense) was really easy to read.”

With the defense holding up its end of the bargain, the Arizona offense capitalized, playing turnover-free football and scoring seemingly at will.

Summary - Arizona: 52, UCLA: 14

Score by Quarter
UCLA (8-1, 5-1)
1st: 0, 2nd: 7, 3rd: 0, 4th: 7, Final: 14

Arizona (3-6, 2-4)
1st: 21, 2nd: 10, 3rd: 21, 4th: 0, Final: 52

Offensive Stats
Passing Yards: 243
Rushing Yards: 85
QB Drew Olson: 23-of-38, 243 yards, two touchdowns
TE Marcedes Lewis: 11 catches, 131 yards, two touchdowns

Passing Yards: 204
Rushing Yards: 315
QB Willie Tuitama: 14-of-24, 204 yards, two touchdowns
RB Mike Bell: 16 carries, 153 yards, touchdown
RB Gilbert Harris: 16 carries, 113 yards (career high), touchdown

Defensive Stats
S Jarrad Page: eight tackles

DE Copeland Bryan: four tackles (three for loss), two sacks
S Marcus Hollingsworth: three tackles (one for loss), fumble recovery, touchdown

Behind the explosive running of Bell and fellow senior tailback Gilbert Harris and the “TNT Connection” of Tuitama and Thomas, the Wildcats reached the end zone on their first four possessions.

“We didn’t expect it to be that easy,” said Harris, who had a career-high 113 yards rushing on 16 carries, including an 18-yard touchdown.

Arizona might not have expected it to be “that easy,” but it was.

Learning from the efforts of Washington, California, Washington State and Stanford — all of whom conceded double-digit leads to UCLA in the second half — Arizona returned from the locker room in the third quarter and immediately added to its 31-7 lead with an opening touchdown rush from Bell, who flipped headfirst over a Bruin defender into the end zone.

Less than a minute later, Arizona tacked on another seven points when junior wide receiver and punt returner Syndric Steptoe forced three missed tackles en route to a 63-yard punt return for a score, the program’s first such touchdown since Bobby Wade in 2000.

“To win games, you have offense, defense and special teams. You need to win two out of those three,” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “Tonight, we won all three.”

Steptoe’s return, and the punting of junior Nick Folk, in his second game punting for the injured Danny Baugher, allowed Arizona’s special teams to dominate.

Folk booted eight of his nine kickoffs out of the end zone and took Drew Olsen, the Pac-10’s top punt returner, out of the equation by kicking away from him.

Arizona’s triple threat buried the Bruins, eliminating any opportunity at a fifth come-from-behind win.

“I didn’t feel comfortable until (the lead) reached 44 or 42,” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “Then I started to breathe a little easier.”

The Wildcat lead was 45 at its greatest, a 52-7 advantage established in the fourth quarter after pressured UCLA quarterback Olson missed on a screen pass.

Arizona junior safety Marcus Hollingsworth jumped on the ball on the end zone after prompting from teammate Wilrey Fontenot, closing out the night with a defensive touchdown and completing the circle of total Wildcat dominance.

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