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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Foles, Beirne go out with character

If you’re looking for a couple of people to exemplify Arizona football’s senior class, look no further than Nick Foles and Bryson Beirne.

Throughout the 2011 season — a miserable one for Arizona football — the two quarterbacks were two of the few bright spots.

Beirne attempted just 17 passes while appearing in six games. That doesn’t sound like anything spectacular.

But now add this to it: He played the entire season on a torn ACL.

Think about that. Beirne took a huge risk in playing an entire season on a torn ligament in his knee just so teammate Matt Scott could redshirt and leave Arizona in a good position next season.

Now Beirne wants to return to Honolulu and teach young people that it’s possible to go places in life even if they’re coming from a bad situation. Beirne is exactly what’s great about college sports — he used athletics to get a scholarship and now wants to give back to the community he came from.

He’s not hanging on to an unrealistic dream of continuing a football career. He’s not doing drugs, getting caught with concealed guns in an IHOP parking lot or taking an “all about me” approach to life. He played behind the two most prolific quarterbacks in Arizona history — Foles and Willie Tuitama — and never complained about not getting a shot to start.

He’s done so much right in his career that Foles told quarterback coach Frank Scelfo that he wanted Beirne to get the start in his last game at Arizona.

“We’re like brothers,” Foles said. “We room together on the road, and he really deserved it.”

And that takes us to Foles. Playing in his last career game in college, he stepped out of the spotlight to give a friend and teammate a chance. Then, playing with a severe rib contusion, he put Arizona on his back and led it to a 45-37 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

“Nick Foles is a warrior,” interim head coach Tim Kish said. “I’m very sure he shouldn’t have played as much as he did. At halftime, when I asked him if he wanted to sit out, it wasn’t even a question. He was going back out.”

Then, with Arizona facing a third-and-long in the middle of the fourth quarter, Foles played with no regard for his health. He dove headfirst, took a shot in the ribs and ended up a yard short of the first down.

“I thought he was done for,” receiver Juron Criner said. “But he rolled over, looked up and got back up.”

That’s what Foles has done all season.

From the beginning of the season when he was getting abused behind the country’s youngest offensive line to making effort plays in the fourth quarter of a meaningless game, Foles never took a play off.

And for a program that’s battled inconsistency and effort for three seasons, Arizona needed someone to do that.

“I told the underclassmen, ‘You need to learn from these seniors,’” said Kish. “We asked the seniors before we left the hotel (Saturday) to lift this team up one last time on their shoulders.”

And, fittingly, Saturday’s game gave both of them memories that will last a lifetime. For Beirne, it’s his first career start. For Foles, it’s reaching the 10,000-yard mark for his career.

And about an hour after the game, Beirne was still cradling a football in his arm like he was waiting for a defense to try and strip it away.

“That’s the game ball I took the knee with,” Beirne said. “Nobody’s taking it away.”

— Alex Williams is the assistant sports editor. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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