It was a long, hot day in the sun, but in a nationally televised game against USC, Arizona played to their apex winning 39-36.
Matt Scott led the charge with 369 yards through the air, finding wide out Austin Hill 10 times for an eye opening 259 receiving yards. Scott also added 100 tough yards on the ground, the second to last which caused him to puke excessively on the field after he took multiple hits to the head. Not letting that slow him down and on his last play of the game, Scott zipped in a seven yard touchdown to David Richards which gave Arizona its first lead since the first quarter.
Ka’Deem Carey led the ground attack, notching 119 yards and a touchdown. Just days earlier he was named to the Maxwell Award list and this game should propel him to being a semi-finalist. Even more impressive for Carey, he was the only Wildcat back to get touches, securing all 28 hand-offs without any turnovers.
USC did not back down as the finish line approached taking a kick off into Arizona territory and scoring moments later, bringing back memories of how Arizona choked against the Stanford Cardinal. On their next possession Arizona was able to run the clock under a minute before punting to USC and giving them a shot at victory. Luckily, time and fate were not on the Trojans side, as Arizona bent but did not break on the final series.
The final play of the game, a ‘Hail Mary,’ seemed to float in the blue Arizona sky for an eternity and when the ball finally hit the ground, pandemonium broke out. For those freshman and sophomores who did not experience the Iowa game in 2010, this is their defining football win, and how sweet it was.
Earlier on, game had the feel of a potential blowout as Southern Cal went up 28-13, but the Wildcats ‘bear’d down’ and decided the defense was going to be the game changer. Arizona held Matt Barkley and USC scoreless from the 10:37 mark in the third quarter, to the 4:40 mark in the fourth quarter. Over that span, UA outscored the Trojans 26-0.
Arizona jumped out to a 10-0 lead, thanks to Barkley and USC shooting themselves in the foot. However, the Wildcats blew opportunity after opportunity to capitalize on the Trojan first half turnovers, eventually falling behind at the intermission, 21-13.
UA got the ball after half time, but floundered the drive, eventually kicking it back to USC. Southern Cal then marched down the field, finally finding WR Marquis Lee for a 44 yard TD.
A possible reason why USC’s offense fell apart was Arizona started doubling the wide receivers, taking away the Trojans main offensive weapons. Lee, who had 16 catches and a conference record 345 receiving yards, was marginalized for much of the second half. Taking away the top threat on offense made USC much less formidable.
This was the type of game you hoped to see from Arizona, but had not seen yet. It was a full 60 minute experience, where Arizona exhibited heart and talent to finally pull out a win. The one concern going forward is Matt Scott’s health status. A concussion most likely means he is out for the next game against UCLA (7:30 next Saturday).
Till then Wildcats, savor and celebrate this victory.