October 7, 2023 – Los Angeles Coliseum
In a Saturday night showdown for the ages, the USC Trojans narrowly escaped with a 43-41 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on October 7th, 2023.
While the game had its share of controversies and heart-stopping moments, it was the electrifying performance of both Arizona quarterback Noah Fifita and USC quarterback Caleb Williams that stole the spotlight.
Fifita’s Second Career Start: A Star in the Making
Making only his second career start as the backup quarterback, Noah Fifita, showed the nation that he has what it takes to shine under the bright lights of college football. With an impressive stat line of 25 completions on 35 attempts, 303 yards, and a staggering five touchdown passes, Fifita played with poise and precision that belied his limited experience. He won Freshman of the Week honors from the Pac-12 Conference.
Fifita’s performance was nothing short of exceptional, as he led the Wildcats’ offense with a level of confidence and maturity seldom seen in a young quarterback. His ability to read defenses, make quick decisions, and deliver accurate passes under pressure left fans and analysts alike in awe. Since the game ended all Tucson can talk about is who will start as QB against Washington State this Saturday, the starter Jayden de Laura, or the back up, Noah Fifita who shined against the No. 7 and No. 9 ranked teams in the nation for the past two weeks. Head Coach Jedd Fisch has a great problem on his hands, two starting quarterbacks.
Caleb Williams, on the other hand, was doing everything he could to will his team to victory, passing for one and rushing for three touchdowns while only passing for 219 yards. One of Williams touchdowns was spectacular as he reached with his arms and body on top of an Arizona defender to score the six points. The one passing touchdown was controversial because clearly on replay you can see that the receiver did not have control of the ball. The referees did not overturn their call much to this dismay of the entire Arizona fan base, coaching staff, and yes the President and the Athletic Director of the University.
Arizona’s Resilient Defense Shines
While Fifita’s offensive fireworks grabbed headlines, the Wildcats’ defense also deserves recognition. They held USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Caleb Williams, in check for most of the game, allowing just 204 yards on 14 completed passes and limiting him to a single passing touchdown.
Arizona’s defensive unit showed tenacity and discipline, disrupting USC’s offensive rhythm and putting pressure on Williams throughout the game. Their ability to adapt to USC’s offensive schemes and make critical stops kept the Wildcats in contention until the final whistle. The Wildcats racked up four sacks, are the most the Trojan offense line has surrendered all season and twice the amount they have earned all season.
Controversial Calls Add Drama
The game wasn’t without its share of controversy. Two questionable calls in particular raised eyebrows and added drama to an already intense matchup. The first call, a “roughing the passer” penalty, drew ire from fans and analysts alike, as it appeared to be a routine tackle with no excessive force involved. The announcers and Steve Beuerline (a fellow Servite alumni of Noah Fifita, Jacob Manu and Tetairoa McMillan) chimed in on Twitter.
The second call, a “face mask” penalty, raised even more eyebrows. Upon closer inspection, it was evident that the alleged face mask was more of a face push, and the call left many scratching their heads. These decisions had a significant impact on the game’s momentum and led to crucial USC scoring drives.
For more on the favoritism Arizona fans felt and the other controversial calls, read my post on ZonaZealots.com.
Triple Overtime Thriller
In a game that saw momentum swing back and forth, the Trojans and Wildcats found themselves locked in an epic battle that extended into triple overtime. Both teams displayed unwavering determination and resilience, refusing to back down in the face of adversity.
Ultimately, USC emerged victorious by stopping a run, securing a narrow 43-41 win in triple overtime. While the Trojans celebrated their hard-fought victory, Arizona and their quarterback sensation, Noah Fifita, left the field with their heads held high, knowing they had pushed one of the nation’s top teams to the brink.
Noah Fifita’s Bright Future
Noah Fifita’s breakout performance against USC serves as a glimpse into a promising future for the young quarterback and the Arizona Wildcats. With his exceptional talent and composure under pressure, Fifita has undoubtedly earned the trust and admiration of fans and teammates alike.
Caleb Williams continues to show why he won and can win again the highly sought after Heisman Trophy.
As the Wildcats continue their journey through the college football season, they can take pride in the fact that they have a star in the making in Noah Fifita while also having gun slinger Jayden de Laura on the roster. While the outcome against USC may not have been in their favor, Fifita’s performance ensures that the future is undeniably bright for Arizona football.
USC advances to an impressive 6-0 despite their fan base being extremely unhappy with the way the Trojans got their sixth victory of the season.