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Arizona beats No. 16 Utah on Senior Day, remains alive for Pac-12 title game

arizona-wildcats-utah-utes-football-recap-final-score-updates-highlights-pac12-2023-seniors Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The final home game of the Pac-12 era featured intermittent rainstorms, a wet and rowdy student section and yet another victory over a ranked opponent. It also kept Arizona’s hopes of making the conference title game alive.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-point lead on No. 16 Utah en route to a 42-18 win, their fourth win against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time. The last time the UA had beat four ranked teams was in 1989.

A win next weekend at ASU, plus some help, would put Arizona (8-3, 6-2) in the Pac-12 title game for the first time since 2014.

The second announced sellout of the season the Wildcats score 21 points in the first quarter—its most in Pac-12 play since 2014—and lead 28-0 one play into the second quarter. It didn’t score again until midway through the fourth but didn’t need to as Utah (7-4, 4-4) managed only three scores points on seven consecutive drives into UA territory.

Michael Wiley caught two touchdown passes, one each from Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan, while Fifita threw for 253 yards and two scores on 22-of-30 passing. McMillan added eight catches for 116 yards including a 51-yard TD catch from Jayden de Laura with 32 seconds left, while Jonah Coleman ran for 90 yards with a TD.

Utah’s Bryson Barnes threw for a career-high 320 yards and two TDs but he threw two interceptions, one in the red zone.

Utah was missing several defensive starters and it showed early, as Arizona outgained the Utes 196-23 in the first quarter. The Wildcats scored on their first three possessions, all on touchdown passes of 20 or more yards, and also had a special teams TD on a blocked punt.

The UA led 28-7 at the half, and it was still a 3-score lead after Utah kicked a 36-yard field goal with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Tyler Loop had a 50-yard field attempt doink off the right upright on Arizona’s opening drive of the quarter, his second miss of the game, and the Utes immediately got back in plus territory.

Utah went for it on 4th and 8 from the 45 and, after the third offsides call on Arizona, Barnes’ pass downfield was incomplete for a turnover on downs with 3:52 left in the third.

Arizona iced the game in the fourth quarter when Treydan Stukes dove for an interception at the UA 39, and seven plays later Coleman scored on a 1-yard run for a 35-10 lead with 7:57 to go.

Arizona scored on its opening drive via a trick play it had tried (and failed) multiple times earlier in the season, but this time it worked to perfect. Fifita threw back to McMillan, who fired a 21-yard TD pass to a wide-open Wiley less than five minutes into the game.

Following a 3-and-out by Utah, Anthony Ward busted through the wall and blocked the punt, scooping up the loose ball at the 2 and strolling in for a TD. It was the Wildcats’ first blocked punt since Rhedi Short in 2021.

The UA made it 21-0 with 4:06 left in the first quarter on a 32-yard catch-and-run score from Montana Lemonious-Craig, who caught a sideline pass at the line of scrimmage and then raced untouched to the end zone.

Wiley caught his second TD pass on the first play of the second quarter, a 31-yarder on another catch and run pass along the line of scrimmage.

After three punts to start the game, Utah finally put something together on offense on its fourth possession, getting into the red zone, but on third down Jacob Manu stepped in front of a pass from Barnes and returned it to midfield. The Utes then got on the scoreboard with 52 seconds left in the first half on a sliding 25-yard TD catch by Devaughn Vele in the rain.

Arizona attempted a 37-yard field goal to end the first half but Loop’s kick was partially blocked. It was his first miss in 37 career attempts under 40 yards.

The UA brings the Territorial Cup to Tempe next Saturday, looking to retain it for a second year in a row for the first time since 2008-09.