The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

89° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Seniors go out with a bang

    UA senior quarterback Willie Tuitama scrambles for a 6-yard touchdown run to give Arizona a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats 31-21 bowl game win at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. Tuitama was named the games MVP after throwing for 325 yards, and two touchdowns.
    UA senior quarterback Willie Tuitama scrambles for a 6-yard touchdown run to give Arizona a 31-14 lead early in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats’ 31-21 bowl game win at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. Tuitama was named the game’s MVP after throwing for 325 yards, and two touchdowns.

    LAS VEGAS – As the confetti drifted down over the Arizona players following a 31-21 win against No. 17 BYU in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, no Wildcat looked happier than the seniors.

    For some, including fifth-year senior Jason Bondzio, the bowl game victory was a perfect ending for careers that started off on such a down note.

    “”It?s tremendous, especially winning that last ASU game, winning this game, I couldn?t ask for a better Christmas present or more from my teammates,”” Bondzio said. “”The fifth-year guys, we?ve seen every single way to lose a game. I figure that might help a little bit with the veteran leadership, but I?m so proud of my team.””

    And he has every right to be.

    Arizona went 3-8 in his first season and now boast the program?s first winning season in a decade to go along with the school?s sixth bowl win.

    Senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer, another fifth-year senior, was more proud of the way his teammates played in the game because of how much bad publicity the Pacific 10 Conference was receiving for poor play against Mountain West Conference teams – see the UA?s three straight losses to MWC teams prior to the bowl win.

    “”There was a lot of talk that was down on the Pac-10 this year and the guys, we wanted it so bad,”” Palmer said. “”We did it for the seniors and for the long struggle that we?ve been through the last four or five years and it finally paid off.””

    Thomas breaks Pac-10 career receptions mark

    Senior wide out Mike Thomas will also attach a special significance to the Las Vegas Bowl, but for different reasons.

    Thomas became the Pac-10?s all-time leader in career receptions with a catch in the final minute of the game. His fourth grab of the contests put him in sole possession of the record with his 259th career catch.

    “”I was getting a little worried at first. We were in the victory (formation) but we got out of it and they got it to me and I?m thankful for it,”” Thomas said. “”I couldn?t ask for too much more.””

    Adding to his nervousness was the way Thomas started the game. He tentatively fielded a punt and almost coughed it up and had two drops in the game. Thomas wasn?t a main force in the game, but he made plays in the running game and passing game when his team needed him to.

    Thomas finished the game with 56 yards on eight total touches, but he ended his career with a bowl game win and will leave his name in the record books.

    “”It started off a little rough for me but we got the victory,”” Thomas said. “”That?s all you need.

    Arizona?s future now in hands of Scott

    True freshman reserve quarterback Matt Scott quietly walked out of Arizona?s lockeroom following the Wildcats? bowl victory Saturday night while senior Tuitama basked in all the glory.

    Now, however, it is likely Scotts? team to take over and with big shoes to fill, given Tuitama can be given credit for turning the Arizona program around.

    “”I have been ready since I got here,”” Scott said of taking over the program. “”As soon as we go back I will be watching film, working with the receivers non stop to get the starting spot next year.””

    As a freshman Scott was heralded because of his uncanny ability to makes plays through both the ground and the air in high school and was predicted to have somewhat of a large role in Arizona?s offense.

    That didn?t turn out to be the plan this season, but Scott is surely expected to take over as Arizona?s signal caller next season.

    “”Willie is a great quarterback and everyone had seen that tonight,”” Scott said. “”I am going to have a hard time doing what he did here, but hopefully I can.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search