Tucson, Ariz.- On a bright and sunny day at Murphey Field, the Arizona Wildcats upset the Air Force Acadamy 46-28. The contest was close in the first half, but Arizona eventually pulled away down the stretch, upsetting the ninth ranked Zoomies.
“A win against a team like Air Force gives us a chance to look at the areas upon which we need to improve,” Arizona Head Coach Dave Sitton said. “That’s the key right now, getting the win and putting ourselves in a position to win later on. We executed better than we did against Utah, but there are still improvements to make.”
The Wildcats started the game with an early score. Conner Sohn scored a try after Arizona had a successful line out near midfield. Justin Taliaferro broke the line and tossed the scoring pass into the corner.
Arizona followed the try with a penalty kick by Jack Arnold , taking an eight-point lead late into the half. Air Force, who had been playing in Wildcat territory for most of the half, finally got a try with two minutes remaining, cutting the lead to just one after the conversion.
There was still two minutes left in the first period, allowing the Wildcats to recover some of that lost lead. Trevor Laue scored on a hard run from a tapped penalty to send Arizona to the break with a 13–7 advantage.
Wildcat prop Dan Livy started the second half off with a bang. He cut through three Air Force defenders and reached out to score a try just minutes into the second half, giving Arizona a 18-7 lead. Four minutes later, Ryan Matyas broke through the Zoomie defense, changing speeds before scoring dead center for an 18-point lead after the Arnold conversion.
Air Force was threatening to score a few minutes later, but Mark Watson stole loose ball. He just passed midfield before being tackled but tossed a nifty offload to freshman Justin.Taliaferro raced and raced towards the try line, diving for the score.
“Taliaferro is an outstanding athlete,” Sitton said. “He has a rugby pedigree as he played some in high school. He also played sevens for us in the fall. He has a bright future and much to learn.”
The Zoomies proved that the game wasn’t quite over yet, Air Force scored back-to-back tries with conversions to cut the lead to just eleven. It seemed to have momentum heading into the final minutes, but Arizona’s reserve eight Jonathon Weisinger broke from the back of a five meter scrum, scoring and extending the lead to 39-21 at the nine-minute mark.
Sohn added one more try for the Wildcats, bringing the final score to 46-28. He and Taliaferro both scored twice on the day.
The Arizona JV team lost in the early match of the day. JV for the Zoomies came away with a 22-7 victory. Air Force led 12-0 at halftime and scored all 22 points unanswered before the Wildcats scored a try late in the game.