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November 4, 2012

'Embarrassed' Wildcats lose blowout, key personnel

PASADENA, Calif. - In a game UCLA debuted its new "L.A. Nights"-themed uniforms, Arizona had what could've been a California dream turn into a nightmare in a hurry Saturday night.

Only this script got worse - then scary - with the game already out of hand.

The 24th-ranked Wildcats trailed by 21 points at the end of one quarter, 39 by the half and were handed a 66-10 thumping by the No. 25 Bruins in front of 81,673 at the Rose Bowl to lose control of the driver's seat in the Pac-12 Conference South Division race.

"I'm embarrassed by how we played, and it starts with me as the head coach," Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez said.

More importantly, the 'Cats (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) lost starting quarterback Matt Scott inside the 6:23 mark of the third quarter.

One series of events summed up the entire game: Scott was knocked out of the game after his helmet hit the turf after getting hit in the end zone. Three plays later, backup B.J. Denker fumbled and the Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) needed just one play for quarterback Brett Hundley to find tight end Joseph Fauria for a 28-yard touchdown.

It was the third blow to Scott's helmet in two weeks. Against USC, the fifth-year senior vomited after being hit twice on one play but continued to throw what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. There would be no such semblance of those events the second time.

"Matt, it appeared he hit his head on someone's knee or thigh," Rodriguez said. "He was a little dizzy. Just talked to him in the locker room. He's obviously upset because of the way we played, but we'll see how that goes."

That put the Wildcats in a 52-10 hole with 5:21 left in the quarter, and then linebacker Hank Hobson's season, at the very least, was dealt an even bigger question mark.

With 12:55 remaining in the game, Hobson collapsed on the UCLA 40-yard line after being knocked back on a play. The sophomore, a Bakersfield, Calif., native, attempted to run down field before falling to the ground. Hobson's parents came down to the field before the 6-3, 224-pounder was put on a stretcher and carted off the field.

"Hank had all movements and was moving his hands and feet and everything," Rodriguez said.

Hobson was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation, and after the game Rodriguez said it was still unclear whether Hobson would stay overnight or be cleared to fly back with the team.

From there, it was a sobering ending to a night that started full of promise, one week after an upset victory over the Trojans.

After showing signs of improvement and the ability to force turnovers each of the past two weeks, the UA defense was blasted for 611 yards of total offense by UCLA. Senior running back Johnathan Franklin rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns to become the school's all-time leading rusher.

Hundley added 288 passing yards and three touchdowns, misfiring on just five of his 28 throws.

"This game doesn't define who we are as a team," UA linebacker Jake Fischer said. "We've beat really good teams this year. We came in against a really good UCLA team and didn't bring it."

Meanwhile, the Wildcats did not produce their first touchdown until Ka'Deem Carey's 2-yard score at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter - but the Bruins were already ahead 35 points by then. Carey's 54 rushing yards put him over 1,000 for first time in career, but he carried the ball just 16 times.

Nic Grigsby was the last Wildcat to accomplish feat in 2008.

The UCLA victory avenged last year's 48-12 result in Tucson and snapped a five-game losing streak in the head-to-head series dating back to 2007. The 66 points were the Bruins' most since Oct. 4, 1997 when they defeated Houston by the exact same score.

"We played well in all phases of the game," Bruins head coach Jim Mora said.

Just as the game got underway, No. 2 Oregon was finishing off a 62-51 victory across town at No. 18 USC. As a result, the Wildcats and Bruins were playing for control of their own destiny.

UCLA jumped on Arizona in emphatic fashion and never looked back.

Franklin needed just the opening drive to set a new record. Coming into the contest just 21 yards shy of Gaston Green, Franklin scampered 37 yards and provided an exclamation point on the new mark with a touchdown.

"It's a great feeling," Franklin said. "All praises to my teammates.

"I was just thinking about doing whatever I can to help my team win."

The start only got worse for Arizona. After failing to produce a first down, punter Kyle Dugandzic shanked an 18-yard punt that never traveled past the Wildcats' own 35-yard line. Six plays later, Hundley leaped into the corner of the end zone for a 6-yard score to put UCLA up 14-0 with 9:48 left in the quarter.

Things turned from bad to worse when a lackluster second drive produced back-to-back three-and-outs for Arizona, and an already torched defense was picked on some more. Hundley found Jordan Payton with a 17-yard touchdown pass to run the lead to 21 points with more than 3 minutes still remaining in the first.

By the end of the quarter, the Bruins had outgained the Wildcats, 195 yards to 22. UA produced just 257 yards of offense, and 11 of its 15 drives lasted five plays or less.

"We all have to look ourselves in the mirror tonight and tomorrow we have to wake up with a new hunger," UA center Kyle Quinn said.

A Richard Morrison muffed punt and fumble only added to was eventually turned into seven more UCLA points on Damien Thigpen's 1-yard score with 11:14 left in the half.

A 28-yard field goal from John Bonano only temporarily stopped the bleeding to make it a 28-3 deficit, but the Bruins then just opened up another wound.

Hundley continued to pick apart UA's defense, completing 13 consecutive passes from the first 5 minutes of the opening quarter to the halftime whistle. In the process, the 6-3, 223-pounder added a 1-yard score to Fauria just before the half to make it 42-3 and complete a dominant first 30 minutes that never let up.

The Wildcats dropped to 0-3 on the road this season.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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