WILDCATS WIN WILD ONE ON SENIOR DAY
#10 Arizona 42
#15 San Diego State 41
Luke Thayer's try late in Arizona's win helped the Wildcats stave off the Aztecs on Senior Day. (Photo credit: Nikki Adams)
March 19- Arizona returned to action after their international tour yesterday, welcoming #15 San Diego State to Sitton Field in the final home game for their 2018 seniors. With playoff implications for both teams on the line, the Wildcats looked for a key win and to return the favor against a solid Aztec side that defeated them in 2017.
While the second half would feature much back and forth, early it was all Wildcats as Scrumhalf Matt Rogers touched down before an Anton Grigoriou penalty made it 8-0 ten minutes in. An SDSU penalty put the visitors on the board before a well worked multi-phase try resulted in Tom Molloy putting Hooker Zach Biggs through for a 13-3 lead. SDSU began to string their attack together before it was the Scrumhalf Rogers again who touched down along with Wing Dante Weeks just before half to send the teams in to the break at 25-17 Arizona.
The second half began as the first ended, with Grigoriou putting Weeks through a half gap and the speedster breaking tackles to touch down and make it 32-17 Wildcats. It was then that momentum began to shift, as SDSU put the Wildcats under pressure and took advantage of sloppy handling to get back in the game at 35-32 before taking a lead 68 minutes in to make it 39-35 SDSU. From here, the impact of the reserves was on full display, as forwards like Bobby Butchofsky and Cody Hunt teamed with Center Luke Thayer to give the Cats a lift, culminating when Kyle Rogers set up Thayer for a 71st minute try to make it 42-41 after Thayer's conversion, a special play from a bright young talent for the home side. SDSU would have one final shot at the win, working their way downfield following an Arizona handling error and taking a shot at goal from the far right touch line that would fall short and allow the Wildcats to squeak by the Aztecs 42-41 and move to 6-2 on the season.
While a stressful game, the result pointed to the leadership of the seniors and the impact of the reserves as a way to test the team before a hopeful playoff bid. "We have work ons, we left points on the board and have items to address for sure, but SDSU is a quality side and we had to dig deep so I'm proud of the guys" said Duffy "especially proud of guys like Luke Thayer who continues to impress and Dante Weeks who made great plays in attack but a number of defensive plays that speak to his well-rounded game."
The Wildcats, who finished 2nd in the PAC Conference this season by virture of Utah's loss to Cal, now sit firmly in the driver seat for a playoff berth, with Cal Poly coming to Tucson this Saturday in their final regular season match. The game will serve as part of the Tucson Cup hosted by Tucson Magpies RFC and take place at Kino Sports Complex.
Arizona Second XV bounced back from a learning experience filled tour to Argentina emphatically on Saturday as well, taking down SDSU Second XV 64-0 with doubles by Flyhalf Robert Figley and Center Kyle Fulton. They will also take on Cal Poly Second XV at Kino Sports Complex next Saturday before finishing their season against New Mexico at home April 7th.
Scoring vs San Diego State
Arizona 42-41 San Diego State
Tries: 6- M. Rogers (2), Weeks (2), Biggs, Thayer
Conv: Grigoriou- 2/5, Thayer- 1/1
Scoring vs San Diego State Second XV
Arizona 64-0 State
Tries: 10- Figley (2), Fulton (2), McBride, Butchofsky, Eldridge, Hunt, Kampton, Strehlow
Conv: Figley- 7/10