Fifita helps Arizona Wildcats upset No. 11 Oregon State
Oct 28, 2023, 11:59 PM
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Noah Fifita threw two touchdown passes to Michael Wiley in the fourth quarter and Arizona beat No. 11 Oregon State 27-24 Saturday night for its second straight win over a ranked opponent.
The Wildcats (5-3, 5-2) had a week off following a 44-6 win over then-No. 19 Washington State that matched their largest margin of victory over a ranked team.
Arizona maintained its momentum against Oregon State (6-2, 3-2) behind Fifita.
Fifita threw for 275 yards on 25-of-32 passing and three touchdowns, hitting Wiley on passes of 40 and 3 yards in the final quarter. The Wildcats also held Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei in check most of the night while limiting the Beavers’ run game.
Uiagalelei hit Jimmy Valsin III on a 20-yard touchdown with 1:38 left, but Oregon State couldn’t come up with the onside kick. Uiagalelei finished with 218 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-30 passing.
Fifita has played well since Jayden de Laura injured his ankle in Week 4, throwing for 924 yards and eight touchdowns in a little over three games.
De Laura is healthy again, but Fifita got the start against Oregon State.
The sophomore was solid at the start, opening with a 7-yard touchdown to Tetairoa McMillan in the back of the end zone, then set up Tyler Loop’s 51-yard field goal. Fifita threw an interception near midfield late in the first half, but Oregon State couldn’t capitalize, leaving the game tied at 10-all at halftime.
Fifita moved Arizona into position for another Loop field goal early in the third quarter, this one from 25 yards, and found Wiley on the 3-yard score with 2:22 left.
The Beavers made it look easy on their first drive, picking apart the Wildcats on a 75-yard drive capped by Uiagalelei’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jack Velling.
The rest of the first half was a struggle against Arizona’s vastly-improved defense.
Oregon State had to settle for a field goal after reaching Arizona’s 12-yard line in the second quarter and tried an ill-advised fake field goal from the 16 on the final play before halftime. The Beavers had scored on all 27 of their trips into the red zone this season before the failed fake.
Oregon State: The Beavers will likely take a big fall in next week’s AP Top 25 after an inconsistent night in the desert.
Arizona: Fifita may have supplanted de Laura as Arizona’s quarterback for good and the Wildcats’ defense had another solid night against a ranked opponent.
Oregon State: Plays at Colorado next Saturday.
Arizona: Hosts UCLA next Saturday.