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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hail Mary propels Arizona’s wild 49-45 win over Cal

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Tyler Baker

Arizona redshirt senior Austin Hill (29) catches the ball in the end zone during the 4th quarter of Arizona’s 49-45 win against Cal at Arizona Stadium on Saturday.

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez summed up the Wildcats’ comeback win over California that included a game-winning, last-second Hail Mary with a quote from “The Lion King.”

When Rafiki hit Simba in the head with a stick, Simba asked, “What was that for?”

“It doesn’t matter; it’s in the past,” Rafiki said.

The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12 Conference) scored 36 points in the fourth quarter and completed a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass to beat California 49-45.

“The first half is in the past; it doesn’t matter,” Rodriguez said.

With no time left, Arizona redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon completed a 47-yard Hail Mary pass to redshirt senior receiver Austin Hill to get the win.

“The entire time I was thinking, ‘I hope I don’t get bumped into,‘” Hill said.

Rodriguez said Hill catching the walk-off winner was extra special, because he missed last season with a knee injury.

“I wasn’t sure who caught it, and I ran down to the corner of the end zone where they were doing that mosh pit or whatever it was,” Rodriguez said. “The last guy I saw getting up was Austin holding that ball like it was his child.”

Arizona fans stormed the field of the UA’s first white-out game but were called off the field, and after a quick review from the officials, rushed the field again.

“It was an awesome feeling to have the whole team jump on top of me, but at the same time, it’s scary,” Hill said, laughing.

Hill caught eight passes for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Rodriguez said the Wildcats worked a little more on Hail Mary plays this week.

“It’s so improbable that at first, you’re like, exhilarated, and then you’re like, ‘How did that just happen?’” Rodriguez said.

Arizona scored touchdowns on its final five drives after starting the game with 13 points after 12 drives.

Things looked bleak for the Wildcats after sophomore receiver Cayleb Jones was flagged for an offensive pass interference call on the last play of the final drive, moving Arizona back to its 15-yard line.

“I was so distraught after that, because I thought I blew it,” Jones said. “Thanks to [Hill], he saved my butt.”

Senior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant, who wasn’t even on the team when training camp started, recovered an onside kick and snagged an interception off of a ricochet to fuel the rally.

Rodriguez said Bondurant is out of the doghouse and onto the porch but “not in the house yet,” though that could change after watching film.

Junior kicker Casey Skowron made three field goals and kicked the onside kick.

“I should’ve tried it earlier; we weren’t really stopping them,” Rodriguez said. “He’s really good at it — one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Cal led the game 28-6 at the half and 31-13 after three quarters.

“Well, you know you have to get over it,” Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said. “Get over it and look forward down the stretch. Football games are 60 minutes for a reason.”

The Golden Bears (2-1, 0-1) had touchdown drives of :43, :13, 1:44, 1:45, 2:34, 2:40 and 2:48, and took a 14-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.

“It was an awful first half,” Rodriguez said. “We executed so poorly, we were just kind of in a funk, but there wasn’t any panic at half time. We didn’t execute that much better in the second half, but they don’t quit.”

Solomon was 47-for-73 for 520 passing yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran for 46 yards on 16 carries. He set single-game school records for passing yards, completions and attempts.

“He was really off at times, but he never panics,” Rodriguez said. “He made some really good plays, too, particularly in the fourth quarter.”

True freshman running back Nick Wilson was held to 33 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game with an injury. Arizona’s streak of having a player rush for at least 100 yards ended after 20 games.

Sophomore receiver Cayleb Jones secured 13 receptions for 186 yards and had three touchdowns. Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III had 18 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Wright said he was too nervous to watch the last play live, but he did run around the field during the celebration with the cheerleaders’ “A” logo flag.

“It’s something you dream about as a little kid after a big win, running around the field with the block ‘A,’” Wright said.

Up next for the Wildcats is a trip to No. 2 Oregon (4-0, 1-0) on Oct. 2.

“It’s just exciting for our fans,” Rodriguez said. “I hope that they come out in full force for the next home game and stay to the end, that way we’ll sell more concessions and [UA athletic director] Greg [Byrne] will be happy [laughs].”

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