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Alamo Bowl: Arizona scores 28 points off 6 turnovers to beat Oklahoma, notch 4th 10-win season in school history

arizona-wildcats-football-alamo-bowl-recap-final-score-oklahoma-sooners-stats-highlights-san-antonio Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO—With each game during its 6-game win streak, and even before that, Arizona’s massively overhauled defense kept showing that it was for real. In the Wildcats’ first bowl game in six years, that unit decided to once and for all prove how good—and for once opportunistic—it was.

Despite allowing the most yards all season, and 24 consecutive points midway through the game, Arizona’s defense forced six turnovers and converted those into 28 points in a 38-24 Alamo Bowl win over No. 12 Oklahoma on Thursday night before 55,853 fans in the Alamodome.

It was the first bowl victory for 14th-ranked Arizona (10-3) since 2015 and secured only the fourth 10-win season in school history, first since 2014. The seventh consecutive victory tied a school record for longest in-season win streak

Arizona won its fifth game over a ranked opponent, most in school history.

Jacob Cowing’s 57-yard catch and run touchdown with 5:28 left was the game winner, then Arizona iced it with 2:56 remaining on a 19-yard TD run by DJ Williams. That came after the sixth takeaway, most since the 2018 opener at Hawaii, as Arizona intercepted Oklahoma freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold three times and recovered three fumbles.

The Wildcats scored the game’s final 25 points after trailing 24-13 midway through the third quarter, this after being up 13-0 after 17 minutes.

Cowing had seven catches for 152 yards and two TDs, giving him a school-record 13 for the season. Tetairoa McMillan caught a UA bowl-record 10 passes for 160 yards, coming up 21 yards shy of the school single-season yardage record.

Noah Fifita threw for 354 yards and two TDs with an interception on 24-of-38 passing, his fifth 300-yard game since taking over as starter in late September.

Up 14-13 at the half, Oklahoma (10-3) needed two plays to make it an 8-point lead. Brennen Thompson got behind the defense for a 63-yard TD pass, the second 60-yard play for the Sooners against a UA team that hadn’t allowed one all season.

Thompson caught a 20-yard pass on Oklahoma’s next possession and then fumbled it, with Dalton Johnson scooping up the loose ball and nearly scoring. The turnover was overturned on replay, though, and the Sooners converted a pair of third downs to get inside the 10 before Arizona’s defense made a goal line stop and forced a 22-yard field goal to make it 24-13 with 6:59 left in the third.

It was the first time the UA had trailed by two scores since Sept. 30 against Washington. It hadn’t been down by more than seven points during the win streak.

The Wildcats went 3-and-out on their next two possessions and Oklahoma was once again in scoring position when they got an incredibly lucky bounced to get back in the game. A pass to Oklahoma’s Kalil Farooq was punched out by Johnson, recovered by Gunner Maldonado and returned it 87 yards for the TD.

Arizona went for 2 and converted, cutting the deficit to 24-21 with two seconds left in the third.

Two plays later, Martell Irby picked off Arnold for Arizona’s fifth takeaway, setting the UA up in prime position to retake the lead. However, Fifita was sacked for a big loss on 3rd and 5, resulting in Tyler Loop’s third field goal of the night to tie it at 24 with 12:49 remaining.

The Wildcats forced Oklahoma to punt from midfield, taking over at their own 5 with 9:55 remaining. That’s when Fifita started to reconnect with McMillan, who had three catches on the drive, but it was Cowing who got the call on 3rd and 9.

Fifita rolled to his right and hit Cowing in stride at the Oklahoma 35 and then Cowing did the rest, racing up the sideline and diving into the end zone for a 31-24 lead with 5:28 to go.

The Sooners got to midfield before getting called for a couple holding penalties, moving the sticks backwards, and on 3rd and 20 Isaiah Ward sacked Arnold and Jacob Kongaika fell on the fumble for the sixth Oklahoma turnover.

Two plays later, Williams put Arizona up two scores.

Arizona needed four plays to get inside the Oklahoma 30 on its opening possession, but a false start and a negative play moved it behind the sticks and it had to settle for a 40-yard Loop field goal. The UA defense gave the Wildcats the ball back quickly, with true freshman Genesis Smith intercepting Arnold at the OU 35 on the Sooners’ third offensive snap.

One play later, Cowing caught a 35-yard TD pass from Fifita and it was 10-0 less than five minutes into the game, matching Arizona’s scoring output in the 2010 Alamo Bowl.

Cowing’s TD catch was his 12th of the season, a single-season UA school record, and also moved him into the top 10 in FBS history for receiving yards.

An interception by Maldonado late in the first quarter set Arizona up for more points, though after getting into the red zone it ended up getting a 38-yard Loop field goal for a 13-0 lead with 13:05 left before halftime.

Oklahoma’s fourth drive got it on the board via an 18-yard TD run by Gavin Sawchuk with 9:42 left in the second. The Sooners gained 80 yards on that drive after managing 36 on their first three.

Arizona looked to be in real danger not long after when Fifita’s pass was tipped and then picked off by Oklahoma’s Kani Walker at the UA 34, and the Sooners’ first play following the takeaway got them inside the 10 only to have Irby punch the ball away from the OU receiver and Treydan Stukes fall on it.

The Wildcats couldn’t take advantage after getting into Oklahoma territory, and the Sooners took their first lead with 2:53 left in the first half on a 10-yard TD catch by Nic Anderson. The UA was outgained 231-70 in the second quarter after holding a 181-36 edge after the first period.