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November 6, 2005The dream of an undefeated showdown with archrival USC came to an end by an inspired Arizona Wildcat football team. The Wildcats gave the Bruins a good old-fashioned butt whooping. There are no excuses to be made. On this particular Saturday the Wildcats were the better team as they whipped the Bruins all day long as the Cats dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Out of the gate the offense looked like it was going to make some noise and picked a couple first downs, but faltered, and was forced to punt.
The Cats started their first offensive series on their own 19 yard line. On the very first play, Wildcat freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama hit senior running back, Mike Bell, with a strike for a huge gain of 51 yards to the Bruin 30. The Wildcats scored quickly on a five play, 81 yard drive that culminated when Tuitama hit another freshman, wide receiver Mike Thomas for 17 yards.
This duo may give the Pac 10 fits for years to come.
Bruin fans were still pretty cool about this first drive, after all, UCLA plays well from behind. But that was not going to be the case for this game, this was going to be Arizona's day.
The Wildcats were faster and hungrier. Arizona was always a step ahead. They were not going to be denied on their home field, on their homecoming day and for this one game this Arizona team could have beat a lot teams.
What really made this team tick, besides the heroics of the freshmen connection of Tuitama and Thomas, and the running game supplied by Bell and fellow senior running back Gilbert Harris was the play of the offensive line.
That unit played with a lot of nasty and they beat on the Bruin defense like they were a drum. This group was blowing the Bruins off the line of scrimmage and once they made one block, they hustled down field and hit someone else.
When you get physical line play like that, it is tough beat. Bell ended up with 153 yards on 16 carries. He scored a rushing touchdown and average 9.6 yards per carry.
Bell's running mate, Harris did almost as well. He rushed for 113 yards on 16 carries while averaging 7.1 yards per carry and one touchdown.
The young freshman quarterback, Tuitama, played well beyond his years. He was poised and was able to get the ball to his playmakers. Tuitama was very impressive for anyone and when you take into account that he is only 18, it is even more impressive.
On the night, Tuitama completed 14 passes on 24 attempts for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Arizona had a well thought out game plan and stayed with what worked. They did not over coach. The run was working so they pounded the ball.
After the first 81-yard drive, the Wildcats had a nine play, 52 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. That was followed by a two play, 61 yard drive and a touchdown and 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The first Cat drive of the second quarter was a 10 play, 90 yard drive for a touchdown. The first four times the Cats had the ball they scored and it didn't matter if they were playing on a short field or had to drive the distance.
The Bruins were down by four touchdowns with almost three quarters of football to play.
Arizona was playing and hitting on all cylinders. The Wildcats played an outstanding game on defense too and at times made the Bruin offensive line look like they were in cement shoes.
This game was won in the trenches and the Bruins took a beating.
Bruin quarterback Drew Olson rarely had time and was harassed all game long, but there was still some fight left.
For a moment in the second quarter when the Bruins went to their two-minute offense it looked like they were up to the task and just maybe another miracle was about to be born, but the Cats didn't want to be part of that, they held the Bruins on fourth down in the red zone.
By now many Bruin fans had the feeling this is different and this could be the end of a magical run. The Bruins did go on to score a touchdown near the end of the second quarter, but Cats came right down and kicked a field goal with only seconds left on the clock before halftime.
Only the most optimistic had any hope for the Bruins when the Cats drove 80 yards on an eight play drive to open the third quarter to make the score 38-7. Then that was followed that up with a Syndric Steptoe 63-yard punt return for a score.
The final dagger came when the Bruins missed a lateral that went into the end zone and of course a Wildcat pounced on the pigskin for another touchdown.
This game was a complete meltdown for the Bruins. They played their worst game and played against a team that was all business while playing their best game of the Mike Stoops era.
Kudos should be given to senior tight end Marcedes Lewis who had a solid game ending up with 11 catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
What this team must do his reclaim their heart, regroup and get focused on Arizona State. They have to have short memories and get on with the future.
The Bruins are still having a good season. To make it a great season they have lick their wounds from this game, shake it off and get redirected for Arizona State.
How this Bruin team responds after being routed will tell a tale about the true grit of this team.
It's time to go 1-0.
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