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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Seniors prove 60 minutes of Arizona works

Tyler Baker

Quarterback Anu Solomon (12) runs the ball downfield on Saturday, Nov. 14. The Wildcats defeated the Utes 37-30 at the end of double halftime.

Well Arizona fans, they finally did it.

After so many blowouts and disappointing finishes. After multiple injuries and repetitive late start times, and with so many people saying they couldn’t do it, they finally did it.

Arizona football came away with their biggest upset of the year, taking down No. 10 Utah 37-30 in double overtime. This win came in classic Rich Rodriguez fashion, coming down to the very wire.

“With everything that has happened with the injuries, and the way that the schedule is lined up, I think maybe some of the doubts understandably started to creep in,” Rodriguez said. “This is one of the best (wins) for sure.”

Arizona has gone into each game with the idea of playing 60 minutes of full, complete football. We caught a glimpse of this last week when the heavily favored USC Trojans were challenged all game by the Wildcats. A few costly mistakes, however, sent the Wildcats back to Tucson with another loss.

Not this time.

Arizona was required to play more than 60 minutes of football. They had to battle until the very last play of the game when Jamar Allah and DaVonte’ Neal defended a Travis Wilson pass for receiver Kenneth Scott to seal the victory. After suffering through a season with so many disappointments, they were able to finish the job.

“You heard a lot about Utah having a chance to be in the College Playoffs, and right fully so. They had deserved that. They’ve earned that,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve had a tremendous season, but they still had to beat Arizona, and our guys came to play.”

Rodriguez seems to find this magic every season in one way or another. Three years ago they took down then-No.18 Oklahoma State at home. The past two seasons Arizona came away with upsets over Oregon at home and on the road.

So an upset victory this season was bound to happen eventually, right?

Kudos to the seniors showing up on Senior Night. Kicker Casey Skowron, who has been consistent all season for Arizona, went 3-3 on the night with kicks from 47, 40, and most notably from 35 to send the game into the second overtime. Defensive end Reggie Gilbert was a nightmare for Wilson all night as he and the defense racked up four sacks. Allah came up big on the final play and also had an interception.

And let’s not forget about Jerrard Randall; the man who has been on the quarterback rollercoaster all season for the Wildcats. Starting quarterback Anu Solomon was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to an apparent head injury. Randall came in to the game with everything tied and the Wildcats owning the momentum from big defensive stops. Randall struggled, but came in the clutch when he needed to. He finished the game 1-5 passing, but his one completion was the game winning touchdown pass to receiver Nate Phillips, a 25 yard strike in the corner of the endzone.

“Jerrard is ready all the time. He is kind of unflappable,” Rodriguez said. “A couple of his throws weren’t bad, and they made nice plays down the field. In fact, the particular route that we used to score the touchdown, we had called earlier and were a little late on our timing. The next time we called it, his timing was perfect and obviously Nate made a tremendous play to give us some momentum.”

Arizona needed its players to step up big in this one and they delivered. Thanks to this win, the Wildcats (6-5, 3-5) are also bowl eligible.

“I didn’t know he caught it at first, but I was very happy when I saw that he hauled it in,” Randall said. “It felt amazing.”

As the Wildcats will now turn their attention to the team in the north, they can finally have a moment to bask in the glory of their much needed upset.

“It feels great,” Gilbert said. “I am very proud of how we played and how we showed the country what we are made of and how good we are. I am proud of how the guys executed, and it was great to get out there and get my last home win.”

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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