Wildcats wrestle 45-37 win away from feisty Ragin' Cajuns

A lost season almost looked a little more sad, but the Arizona Wildcats fought off a tough Lousiana-Lafayette team for a 45-37 victory to finish off the 2011 season on Saturday. And now, the can look to the future in the Rich Rodriguez era.

On Saturday, here's how important every one of those points were needed for both teams: Five times did the teams go for fourth-down conversions, and all five times were they successful. I guess that also shows how porous both defenses were.

Arizona allowed 408 total yards to the Ragin' Cajuns, but the Wildcats put up 494 of their own, led by quarterback Nick Foles' 352 yards that put him over the 10,000-yard career mark. He joins nine other Pac-12 players to pass for more than the same five-digit minimum.

Fellow senior Juron Criner played his last game at Arizona with force as well, going for 129 yards on nine receptions, two of which were touchdowns.

In the run game, Keola Antolin finished with 69 yards on 19 touches.

Once again, the Wildcats started slow and found themselves down 7-0 after starter QB Bryson Beirne was picked by ULL. Lafayette scored on the ensuing drive, but Foles came back to answer for the Wildcats early in the second.

The Wildcats would put up 21 second quarter points and outscore ULL 31-9 after the Ragin' Cajuns' first touchdown. But ULL kept pace, scoring 21 fourth quarter points to put the pressure on Arizona on its senior day.

After making it 31-23 with a touchdown score for the Ragin' Cajuns, Arizona back Daniel Jenkins returned the kickoff for 81 yards to the 2-yard line and the Wildcats scored soon thereafter.

Both teams would trade touchdowns again, and ULL scored on a 0:57-second drive to bring it with eight points once again. But Arizona created enough of a drive to burn off the 5:05 left on the clock and that was the ballgame.

 

As for the seniors, we'll likely see two Wildcats in the NFL come next year.

Many predict quarterback Nick Foles to be a second-round pick, and Juron Criner could also be taken on the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft. 

 

And now, the Rich Rodriguez era begins. 

Arizona's roster is intriguing in that it has some seemingly talented pieces to create a solid NCAA football team off the bat, but how quickly RichRod will implement his philosophies will be key. Will it take the 3-4 years to mold the team to his liking, or will we see immediate results next season?

Rodriguez has already hit the recruiting front and he'll go to work right away in filling out the rest of his coaching staff.

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