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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Versus column: Which play was better?


Arizona redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (12) hands the ball off during Arizona’ s 31-24 win against Oregon on Oct. 2 at Autzen Field in Eugene, Ore. Daily Wildcat reporters debated whether the ʺHill Maryʺ play or the Scooby strip meant more to the program.

Scooby Strip by James Kelley

Autzen Stadium went eerily quiet.

After the Arizona touchdowns and when the Ducks were on offense, after UA sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III stripped UO junior quarterback Marcus Mariota of the ball, it was as if someone hit the mute button.

It was supposed to be Mariota’s Heisman-Trophy moment: he drives the Ducks down the field, saves their playoff chances and Oregon fans get a lasting positive memory from Autzen’s 100th straight sell-out and UO’s black out.

Instead, Wright III, who only received two stars as a recruit, literally stole the spotlight from a player whom Sports Illustrated said may be the best dual-threat quarterback ever.

Maybe Duck fans are better than Arizona fans, but only a handful left right after the strip, as if they were too surprised to move and even after the game, save for a few mumbles about a celebration penalty. They were very quiet as we negotiated our way though the crowd to Arizona’s press conference.

That’s not the way the script was supposed to play out.

The “Scooby Strip” came after back-to-back Duck plays of at least 12 yards. Oregon was driving down the field, but, in one play, Wright III clinched a historical road win, vaulted the Wildcats into the playoff picture and had Tucson talking about football after basketball season’s begun.

A Hail Mary is more rare — Wright III will almost certainly force another fumble in the upcoming games, maybe even strip the ball like that — but the win over Oregon is the Wildcats’ best ever. They’ve beat the No. 1 team twice, but one was at the friendly confines of Arizona Stadium (Washington in 1992) and one before the casual LA fans (USC in 1981).

The “Scooby Strip” could be the play that years from now is looked back on that as the start of something big.

The play was a perfect example of Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona program. It doesn’t matter how many stars you had playing against high school boys; you’re a star now.


Hill Mary catch by Brian Peel

It can be a dangerous thing to live in a world of hypotheticals. Getting lost in an imaginary sphere that never really existed can drive someone off the edge, sending them into a spiral of fear and loathing that splits their perception of reality and that spooky netherworld we scream of in our dreams.

That being said, let me give you an example of a pretty good one.

On Sept. 20, Anu Solomon completed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill with no time remaining in the Wildcats’ dramatic come-from-behind win against Cal. It has since been dubbed the “Hill Mary.” 

Doesn’t anyone wonder what may have happened if that play never occurred?

Well, I, for one, question where we would be as a nation today had that pass fallen incomplete.

One thing is almost certain: the Wildcats would not have come out and played their best game against Oregon, and the “Scooby strip” probably would never have existed. 

But beyond the metaphysical ramifications that only the writers of “True Detective” could truly contemplate, are we really trying to compare a Hail Mary to a forced fumble here?

A Hail Mary is a beautiful, floating swan that gracefully descends into the eager hands of a most trusted and noble knight of the gridiron.  

A forced fumble or recovery is two sweaty, muscular dudes wrestling over an inflated, rubbery thing.      

Not only did the “Hill Mary” deliver the Wildcats an improbable win that the team desperately needed to open Pac-12 Conference play, but it also apparently started a trend. Just two weeks after Hill caught Solomon’s game winner against Cal, ASU did the same thing against USC, albeit in a much less aesthetically pleasing manner.

If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, as I believe the late, great Billy Mays was once quoted as saying, then ASU football and Todd Graham must be really big fans of what Rich Rodriguez is doing down here in Tucson.      


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