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November 15, 2008

Simulation: UA wins exciting game

Every week this season, GOAZCATS.com will run a simulation of each game that the Arizona Wildcats football team is involved in. The simulation will run on the Xbox 360 version of NCAA Football 2009 by pitting two CPU-controlled teams against each other.

In a game that projected to have a lot of offense, a defensive struggle broke out in Eugene, resulting in a total of nine turnovers in Arizona's 20-16 victory over Oregon.

Willie Tuitama had a rough game, completing only nine passes in 21 attempts for 133 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Tuitama had a strong drive to start the game but went cold thereafter.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli didn't fair any better. Masoli completed 11 passes in 25 attempts for only 96 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions of his own.

Masoli, usually a significant running threat, was held to only 27 yards on the ground.

Nicolas Grigsby had a solid game, carrying the ball 17 times for 83 yards. He was the only running back in the game with significant yardage on the ground.

The Wildcats received the ball to start the game and immediately took advantage when Mike Thomas returned the kick all the way back to the Oregon 47-yard line. It only took Arizona five plays to reach the end zone when Tuitama hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 22-yard touchdown that gave UA a 7-0 lead.

The score remained that way as teams exchanged two interceptions apiece - two from Devin Ross and one from Patrick Chung and Walter Thurmond each -- in the second quarter. Neither offense could take advantage of the turnovers as the Wildcats held the advantage going into the half.

At the start of the third quarter, Oregon turned the ball over on the opening kickoff when Andre Crenshaw was stripped by Sterling Lewis to give Arizona excellent field position.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they couldn't take advantage of the situation as they went three and out and thought they were settling for three. Instead, Jason Bondzio's 34-yard kick was blocked at the line and that's when Chung picked up the loose ball and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown as the Ducks tied the game at seven.

After each team exchanged field goals on the ensuing possessions to keep the game knotted at 10 going into the fourth quarter, Arizona took the ball at its own 44-yard line. On the first play, Grigsby fumbled the ball and UO linebacker John Bacon picked the ball up and took the ball to the Arizona five yard line.

On the first play, running back Jeremiah Johnson took the ball in for a five yard score to give the Ducks a 16-10 lead. However, the extra point was blocked and it would cost Oregon later in the game.

The game seemed lost for Arizona when Tuitama tried to find Terrell Turner deep on the following possession and was picked off by Jairus Byrd at the UO 27-yard line with just under three minutes to play

With the game seemingly in hand, Masoli made a costly mistake on second down and long. With defensive end Brooks Reed in his face, Masoli made an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Nate Ness and returned 65 yards for the Arizona touchdown. The extra point gave the Wildcats a 17-16 lead.

Oregon went three and out on the next possession and was down one with only 1:40 left on the clock, but held all three timeouts and decided to punt.

Thomas' return seemed to be a dagger as he returned the punt to the Ducks 17-yard line, but UA went three and out and had to settle for a Bondzio field goal as Arizona extended the lead to 20-16.

In dramatic fashion, Crenshaw returned the kick 55 yards to the Arizona 47-yard line. Masoli would get Oregon to the 26-yard line, but needing a touchdown because of the blocked extra point, the Ducks were forced to go for it on fourth down and long.

Masoli dropped back to pass and found Johnson over the middle but Lewis knocked the ball down and that ended UO's chances.

Jason Nimrichter

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