2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 13, UL Lafayette at Arizona
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Nov. 26 at Arizona 45 … UL Lafayette 27
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) TUCSON, Ariz. -- Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in his final game for Arizona, and the Wildcats held off Louisiana-Lafayette 45-37 on Saturday.
Foles, whose status for the game had been uncertain because of bruised ribs, tied the school record for career (64) and single-season (31) touchdown passes. He already held virtually all other passing records at the school. Foles also topped 4,000 yards passing for the season and 10,000 for his career.
Juron Criner caught nine passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats (4-8), breaking the school career record for TD receptions at 32.
Blaine Gautier threw for 315 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score for the Ragin' Cajuns (8-4), who cut the Arizona lead to eight points three times in the fourth quarter.
Javon Lawson caught five passes for 137 yards for the Cajuns.
Gautier tied Jake Delhomme's school record of touchdown passes in a season at 20.
Louisiana-Lafayette tied an NCAA record when Jemarious Moten intercepted Foles' pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the seventh pick-six of the season for the team. That tied a mark set by Tennessee in 1971.
The Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl on Monday, their first postseason appearance in 41 years.
Arizona (4-8) finished 3-3 under interim coach Tim Kish after Mike Stoops was fired halfway through the season. New coach Rich Rodriguez visited with tailgaters before the game and was introduced to the crowd at halftime.
Louisiana-Lafayette, 0-4 against Pac-12 teams, pulled within one possession for the final time when Gauthier scored on a 10-yard quarterback draw with 5:05 to play. But the Cajuns never got the ball again as Arizona moved downfield and ran out the clock.
Moten's TD return, on his second interception of the day, cut Arizona's lead to 31-23, but the Wildcats' Daniel Jenkins returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the Louisiana 2. Two plays later, Keola Antolin scored on a 5-yard run to make it 38-23 with 13:28 left.
Again the Ragin' Cajuns came back, going 71 yards in 10 plays, with Alonzo Harris scoring on a 5-yard run to cut it to 38-30 with 10:26 still to go.
Foles' 35-yard pass to Criner at the 6:08 mark boosted the lead to 45-30.
The Cajuns used a fake punt and an onside kick in the first half, both of them successful, to take leads of 7-0 and 13-7.
Backup Bryson Bierne started in place of Foles, who was knocked out late in last week's 31-27 win at Arizona State. Bierne drove the Wildcats to the Louisiana 25, but his pass was intercepted by Moten, who returned it 19 yards to the Cajuns' 40.
Gautier's 40-yard pass to Lawson set up Harry Peoples' 11-yard TD run to make it 7-0. Foles came on for Arizona's second series and directed a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive, with fullback Taimi Tutogi bulling in from the 1 on fourth down to tie it at 7-7.
After the kickoff, Louisiana-Lafayette faked a punt on fourth-and-11 from its 40, with punter Brett Baer throwing 13 yards to the Arizona 47. Ladarius Green's 20-yard run on a reverse set up Gautier's 4-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Harris. Baer's conversion try bounced off the right upright and was no good, so the Ragin' Cajuns led 13-7 with 9:14 left in the half.
Foles threw two touchdown passes in a span of two minutes, 39 seconds late in the half to put Arizona up 21-13 at the break.
Jenkins' 34-yard run and a 24-yard pass to Criner set up Foles' 9-yard scoring pass to Criner that put Arizona up for good 14-13. On the second play after the subsequent kickoff, Gautier was hit by defenders from both sides and fumbled. Marquis Flowers recovered for the Wildcats at the Louisiana 32.
A roughing the passer penalty and four straight completions by Foles, the last 12 yards to David Douglas for a touchdown with 34 seconds left, put Arizona ahead 21-13.
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3) at Arizona (3-8) Nov. 26, 4:00
Here’s The Deal … Arizona has one final game left in this dreadful season. Of far greater significance, it also has a new head coach. On Monday, the University announced that Rich Rodriguez had been hired as the program’s successor to Mike Stoops. Although Rodriguez most recently had a failed stint in Ann Arbor, he has a track of elevating underachieving programs at Tulane and West Virginia. On the field, the Wildcats picked up their most important victory of an otherwise disappointing 2011, upsetting rival Arizona State for the Territorial Cup.
It’s been a memorable year for Louisiana-Lafayette, which will be facing Arizona for the first time in school history. Under rookie head coach Mark Hudspeth, the Ragin’ Cajuns have authored a dramatic turnaround after going 3-9 in 2010. Though hopes of a Sun Belt Conference championship faded with a loss to Arkansas State before the break, the program has already accepted an invitation to play in the New Orleans Bowl, its first berth since 1970.
Why Louisiana-Lafayette Might Win: Does Arizona have any emotion left after beating Arizona State in a nail-biter? While it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats getting up for this visit, a trip to Pac-12 country is a big deal for the Cajuns. They’ve amassed some confidence this fall behind a high-scoring offense putting up 32 points a game. While the running the ball will come with challenges, Louisiana QB Blaine Gauthier will be able to navigate a Wildcats pass defense that ranks 119th nationally, and is last in the league in sacks. The versatile junior has accounted for 19 touchdown passes and 443 yards on the ground, doing a good job of spreading the ball around to TE Ladarius Green and wide receivers Javone Lawson, Darryl Surgent and Harry Peoples.
Why Arizona Might Win: On pure talent and depth alone, the Wildcats ought to be able to jet past their visitors from Louisiana. The Cajuns are too spotty on defense to run with a Pac-12 squad. This will be the final NFL audition for QB Nick Foles, who’s thrown for 25 touchdowns and almost 4,000 yards. He’ll have a slew of viable targets for the Ragin’ Cajuns to contain, including Juron Criner, Dan Buckner, Gino Crump and David Douglas. This is also one of those games that Arizona might want to feature RB Ka’Deem Carey, the local rookie who has feature back potential once senior Keola Antolin is through in Tucson.
What To Watch Out For: One of the budding stars that the new staff will be inheriting is true freshman Tramayne Bondurant. Out of place at linebacker for interim head coach Tim Kish, he’ll likely move back to safety in the spring. Wherever he lines up, he’s shown a knack for being a playmaker since moving into the lineup at the midway point of the season. The physical and athletic defender flashed his ability in the Arizona State victory, making eight stops, forcing a fumble and breaking up four throws.
What Will Happen: The Arizona seniors will be after one more victory with the program. Everyone else will be looking to grab the attention of Rodriguez, who’ll be an interested observer. While this is certainly the kind of game that the Wildcats are capable of sleepwalking through, their skill position talent will help shake off the malaise. The Ragin’ Cajuns will score, but the ‘Cats will simply more, racking up more than 500 yards of total offense, while Carey whets the appetite of the locals one last time before heading off into his first offseason at the school.
CFN Prediction: Arizona 45 … Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Arizona -11 O/U: 71
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