Toughing it out

UA defense helps overcome sickly Foles and offense
2009-10-25T00:00:00Z Toughing it outBy Sarah Trotto Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 25, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Turns out, sickness and mistakes can render Nick Foles human.

A week after he set a school record for accuracy, Foles showed his vulnerability in throwing three interceptions in the Arizona Wildcats' 27-13 victory over UCLA on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

Imperfection was bound to happen for the Pac-10 leader in pass efficiency — Foles was 22 of 34 for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but also committed a fumble that led to UCLA's lone touchdown.

"Nick wasn't at his best," said coach Mike Stoops while Foles, who has flu-like symptoms, was unavailable to the media after the game.

"I think Nick was a little under the weather, but still made some careless choices with the football, but again, still did some awfully good things."

In all, the Cats (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) overcame five turnovers — their most since last year's 36-28 loss to New Mexico — with improved defense and depth at running back to move within one victory of becoming bowl eligible.

One of the turnovers pulled UCLA (3-4, 0-4) back in the game. With the UA ahead 20-6 in the third quarter, Foles attempted a screen pass that UCLA's Akeem Ayers nearly intercepted. Safety Tony Dye picked up the ball and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. Officials reviewed the play and ruled the play a lateral, upholding the touchdown to pull the Bruins within seven.

"I guess you see it occasionally as a lateral. I couldn't tell by the look of it," Stoops said.

After both Nicolas Grigsby and Greg Nwoko exited with shoulder injuries, backup Nick Booth scored the final touchdown, the first of his UA career, on a 6-yard run with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.

In setting up Booth's touchdown, Foles threw passes of 17 and 16 yards to Terrell Turner.

Turner said he could tell by the sound of Foles' voice when he was calling plays that the quarterback wasn't himself.

"He was kinda a little sluggish, but he was still pushing us to get the tempo going because that's what we need," said Turner, who finished with 55 yards on five catches.

Last week against Stanford, Foles was nearly flawless, completing 40 of 51 passes for three touchdowns and 415 yards.

"You're not going to get a perfect game out of everybody," Turner said. "That's when you have to have other guys step up, and things like injuries also happen. We have to work together as a team, and if someone is lagging someone else has to pick it up."

This time, the defense took that role. A week after feeling embarrassed in a 43-38 victory over Stanford, the Arizona defense held the Bruins to 211 yards. UCLA tried three quarterbacks, who combined for 15 completions on 35 attempts.

"Coach told us earlier to just go out and have fun. That's what we did," said safety Cam Nelson, who finished with two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Arizona stopped UCLA on fourth down on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter. On the Bruins' final possession, linebackers Xavier Kelley and Vuna Tuihalamaka stopped Taylor Embree on a reception 4 yards short of a first down on fourth-and-10 with 4:34 left.

On its previous drive, UCLA's last three passes fell incomplete.

"We challenged our guys this week," defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. "Just play with a little tougher mindset, just to prepare a little harder and put a little more into it."

Up next

• Who: Wash. State at Arizona

• When: Nov. 7, 1:30 p.m.

• TV: TBA

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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