It’s a great night to be a Wildcat! Arizona Football came into the UCLA game at the Rose Bowl with a 3-6 record and upset the No. 9 UCLA Bruins 34-28.
For the past four or five seasons, Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Dana Cooper, and their Learfield team have had to announce many Arizona Football losses. Together, that group enjoyed just one win last season.
On a very cold Saturday night in Pasadena, California, the crew prepared for possibly another disappointment. Holding out hope, the general feeling was that there is always a chance they could win if the team could just limit penalties, connect on passes, run the ball efficiently, make some huge defensive plays, and not turn the ball over.
Well, the football gods shined upon the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday evening. After a dismal loss to the Utah Utes in the rain the previous week, Arizona upset the UCLA Bruins, 34-28.
The Wildcats broke the Bruins’ eight-game winning streak at home. On top of that, Arizona’s defense held the Bruins to 28 points, the lowest amount of points UCLA has scored in 10 games this season (UCLA scored 30 points vs. Oregon).
Once a year, I get the chance to work for Brian and Lamonte when they come to Los Angeles for a game, and it is the bright spot of my year.
One of the things I like to do is bring a treat for the booth, and last night I brought a dozen Randy’s donuts. We’re talking churro donuts, Fruit Loop donuts, apple pie-filled donuts, and my favorite s’mores donuts.
As always, Rose Bowl or Coliseum (USC) staff try to dip into the box on my way to the booth, and it’s a long way from my car to the G-Level at the Rose Bowl. Brian was so happy to see the orange and white box but then agreed seeing me was nice too, haha.
When our boss, Learfield GM Joe Moeller, arrived in our booth for his pregame speech, he was delighted to see that I hadn’t let him down after all. He went for his favorite M&M vanilla iced raised donut. He promised us before leaving that Arizona will win, “We can win this game!”
Joe was right!
Postgame, Arizona Football head coach Jedd Fisch told the media 26 Southern California players on his team were very happy after the win. “That was a big win for our program. That was a big win for Arizona Football,” Fisch exclaimed post-game. It was a big game for him as well, he was so happy after the game, it was nice to see when hard work and perseverance pay off.
Everyone else shared the team’s enthusiasm. There was joy everywhere there were Wildcat fans, especially in the Arizona Learfield Broadcast booth.
I can only imagine die-hard fans watching the game at home or in bars going nuts after the final seconds counted down on the clock and the Bruins last ditch play failed with a dropped pass in the end zone. Here’s one families celebration, Jason Scheer’s reaction was caught on film by his wife:
Jason was all of us in the Learfield booth, I was praying so hard I forgot to spot some tackles, and Brian was not focused on the tackles, he had his binoculars on talking fans through the final minute of the game.
Then UCLA’s head coach Chip Kelly called a time-out with 1:11 left in the game. To me, the spiritual woman I am, the angel number was too hard to dismiss. I looked over at an intern and told her, “Oh, 111, that’s a great sign.” (If you know you know).
Lamont was wearing a jacket and gloves, but even with his gloves on, you could hear him clapping after the win. I was jumping up and down, and it was really hard to stay quiet, and it didn’t seem to matter because we all just let out a sigh of relief when the camera panned to a visually emotional Jaden de Laura and Coach Fisch hugging Gunnar Cruz on the sideline.
Slumped in delight, still clutching his binoculars Brian continued to convey his professional delight with Lamont about how the Wildcats won this game.
Arizona coaches sprinted down the hallway past our booth, cheering loudly as they made their way to the field to celebrate with their squad.
When I looked across to the UCLA radio booth, I noticed several people shaking heads. There were no women in any booth except ours, and for that, I was very grateful to Brian Jeffries for helping me get my start and continuing to support my dreams.
The players immediately ran over to the fans and their families in the Arizona Wildcats section in the end zone who stayed diligently until the end of the game. The ZonaZoo Crew in their striped signature polos led the group in UofA chants all through the game, it was loud and we could hear it up in the booth.
I captured this footage, you can hear Brian and Lamont in the background:
In addition to holding UCLA to 28 points, the defense came through. Jacob Manu played out of his mind. As a true freshman, Manu topped the stats list with 10 tackles (5 solo), Tiaoalii Savea blocked a late-game field goal, and the defense made three sacks (Jalen Harris, Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei, and Jaxen Turner).
Arizona’s offense was perfect, converting twice on fourth down while UCLA only completed 2-5 fourth down conversions, that’s basically three turnovers.
On offense, de Laura got high praise from Coach Fisch who stated post-game that he was going to be Arizona’s QB for the next few years.
And after coming off a dismal game against Utah, de Laura had to be pleased with his performance against UCLA (22-28 completed passes for 315 yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, 3 yards rushing, and NO TURNOVERS)!
Michael Wiley added a crucial 97 yards rushing and a touchdown and Jacob Cowing and Dorian Singer topped the wide receiver chart with 118 yards and 83 yards respectively.
The win puts the University of Arizona on the verge of bowl eligibility, with two home games remaining, and it adds to the possible upheaval in the Pac-12 competition, with Washington defeating Oregon.
Can Arizona win two more games? Just ask Joe. I am sure his answer will be yes. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy the team singing the Bear Down fight song in the locker room after a few more wins?