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Cat Tracks: Denker, Arizona rally late but fall to USC

Lane Kiffin is out at USC, but there’s still madness in Los Angeles, thanks to Arizona’s visit there Thursday night.

In interim head coach Ed Orgeron’s debut, the Trojans staved off a late Wildcats rally at The Coliseum, prevailing 38-31.

Wildcats’ senior quarterback B.J. Denker, who grew up in Torrance, Ca. — less than 20 miles from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — nearly matched his passing output of the previous four games combined in the contest, throwing for 363 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes in the game.

Ka’Deem Carey, meanwhile, rushed for 138 yards on 21 carries, continuing his spectacular season for yet another game.

On the other side of the ball, however, coach Rich Rodriguez’s defense had difficulty slowing down Cody Kessler and the USC offense, which accrued 546 total yards. And the Trojans’ offensive effort was balanced, with 297 yards coming in the air and 249 coming on the ground.

Yet, despite trailing 38-17 at one point in the game, the Wildcats rallied to pull within a score with more than two minutes to play in the game. They had two timeouts and, after drawing USC kick returners upfield with a back-to-back high, short kickoffs, they had the Trojans pinned at their own 4 with a deep kick.

But Silas Redd and the Trojans’ run game were able to bring a halt to the Arizona rally, getting three first downs to seal the game.

Arizona fell to 3-2 (0-2) with the loss.

The Good:

After spending its first four games in a run-dominated offense, the Wildcats found a passing game Thursday.

B.J. Denker looked Johnny Manziel-lite in the contest, getting outside of the pocket and throwing downfield for big yardage. The senior quarterback recorded touchdown passes of 57, 45 and 28 yards in the contest.

Ka’Deem Carey’s 138-yard effort balanced out the Wildcats’ offense nicely.

The Bad:

Arizona’s defense and special teams struggled mightily in the loss. The Wildcats had a blocked punt, a missed field goal and a botched snap on a PAT (which was later reversed due to a late penalty).

Defensively, they allowed 546 total yards and big play after big play.

Up Next:

Arizona (3-2, 0-2) plays Utah (3-2, 0-2) Saturday, October 19 in Tucson.