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Arizona squanders 2-score halftime lead to Washington to drop 19th straight

arizona-wildcats-washington-huskies-football-pac12-losing-streak-fisch-plummer-joiner-2021 Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was deja vu all over again for the Arizona Wildcats, who continue to find new ways to not win.

Arizona was outscored 21-3 in the second half, blowing another two-score lead en route to a 21-16 home loss to Washington on Friday night. It was the 19th consecutive loss for the Wildcats, tied for the 20th-longest skid in FBS history.

Ahead 13-0 at the half, the UA (0-7, 0-4 Pac-12) managed just 136 yards over the final two quarters while shooting itself in the foot on multiple occasions. The Wildcats committed 10 penalties, including a few huge infractions in the second half, and had a game-turning interception early in the fourth quarter.

Basically, the same stuff it’s had happen a lot this season. Arizona has been outscored 116-37 in the second half in Jedd Fisch’s first season.

An announced crowd of 30,880—it was much less—saw the Wildcats lead 13-0 at the half, the third time it held a lead of that size during the losing streak. Arizona had a chance to build the advantage further since it got the ball to start the second half, but facing a 4th-and-inches from its own 34 Fisch opted to punt it away.

Washington, which gained only 65 yards in the first half, finally got its offense in gear thanks to the passing game. The Huskies (3-4, 2-2) went 81 yards in eight plays, including completions of 29, 28 and 16 with the last of those a touchdown catch by Terrell Bynum to get within 13-7 with 9:41 left in the third.

Arizona’s Jaxen Turner intercepted a pass on that drive but it was wiped out by an offsides penalty on Leevel Tatum III, and Jaydin Young whiffed on a tackle on 3rd-and-long that resulted in a 29-yard gain.

The Wildcats made it 16-7 with 2:31 left in the third on a 35-yard field goal by Loop, making it a 2-score game again and taking more than seven minutes off the clock. But it was another example of their own miscues in the red zone costing them points, as after getting down to the UW 12 a holding call on Josh Baker on the next plat squelched the momentum.

After forcing another punt thanks to a Trevon Mason sack, the UA had a chance to put the game away early in the fourth quarter. It had driven inside the Washington 30 when Will Plummer was intercepted by defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa on a screen pass intended for Stevie Rocker Jr.

The Huskies quickly took advantage of that takeaway, scoring on a 9-yard run by Cameron Davis to cut it to 16-14 with 11:39 left. That came one play after Bynum caught a 51-yard pass.

Arizona again chose not to go for it on 4th-and-1 from its side of the field, punting it back to Washington with 10:01 left. Another 51-yard pass to Bynum, as well as a holding call in the end zone on Arizona’s Christian Young, set the stage for an 8-yard TD catch by Rome Odunze to put the Huskies ahead 21-16 with 6:44 remaining.

The UA went 3-and-out on its next possession, which never hand a chance after a holding call on second down and a sack on third down. It then got a defensive stop with 2:26 left only to be flagged for an illegal substitution for having 12 men on the field … immediately after calling a timeout.

Given one last chance from its own 20 with 21 seconds left, Arizona’s only productive play was thanks to a roughing penalty to get to its own 40. What followed were two short out routes to BJ Casteel, both of which he dropped, then Plummer was intercepted on a Hail Mary pass that came down far short of the end zone.

Plummer finished with 68 yards on 13-of-20 passing, while Arizona ran for a season-high 218 yards. Rocker led the Wildcats with a career-high 87 yards on just eight carries, while Jalen John ran for 65 yards on 19 carries.

Arizona used its defense and special teams to get the scoring started, forcing a Washington punt on its first possession that Nazar Bombata blocked and Rhedi Short recovered inside the UW 25. The Wildcats only managed a few yards before Tyler Loop hit a 34-yard field goal to put them up 3-0 with 9:01 left in the first half.

Jamarye Joiner made it 10-0 with 8:16 left in the second quarter on a 1-yard run, taking a direct snap two plays after John got Arizona near the goal line. John was stuffed on 1st-and-goal, conjuring memories of last week’s goal-line debacle against Colorado, before Joiner punched it up.

A 50-yard field goal by Lucas Havrisik made it 13-0 with 2:23 left in the first half. That score was set up by a 52-yard run from Rocker, Arizona’s longest run play of the season.

The Wildcats visit USC on Oct. 30 for a 4 p.m. MT kickoff in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Arizona hasn’t won there since 2009.