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Football Notes: Hill Mary highlights wacky football weekend

%09Arizona+redshirt+sophomore+wide+receiver+Cayleb+Jones+%281%29+scores+his+second+of+three+touchdowns+during+the+UA%26%238217%3Bs+49-45+win+against+California+on+Saturday+at+Arizona+Stadium.+Over+the+weekend%2C+Arizona+experienced+several+wacky+plays+that+shaped+the+outlook+of+its+win+over+Cal.
Tyler Baker

Arizona redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones (1) scores his second of three touchdowns during the UA’s 49-45 win against California on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Over the weekend, Arizona experienced several wacky plays that shaped the outlook of its win over Cal.

Arizona football’s unlikely game-winning, last second Hail Mary pass went viral and came after extra practice.

The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12 Conference) beat California 49-45 on Saturday after freshman quarterback Anu Solomon connected with senior receiver Austin Hill on a 47-yard Hail Mary pass.

Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez said the team works on Hail Mary scenarios every Thursday but gave it a little more attention in the practice two days before the Cal game.

“I tell the quarterbacks: ‘they need to be five yards deep in case it is tipped frontwards, we can still score, or a little bit over thrown, we can still score,’” Rodriguez said. “That was about seven-and-a-half-yards deep, so Anu’s got to work on his accuracy.”

Hill said the Cal game was completely different from the 2012 New Mexico Bowl where the Wildcats trailed 48-35 against Nevada with 1:48 to go but won 49-48.

“I don’t think there’s anything like a Hail Mary last play especially since the defense is giving it 110 percent knowing it’s the final play and the offense is giving 110 percent knowing it’s the final play,” Hill said. “It’s just an awesome feeling to catch a Hail Mary.”

The term “Hail Mary” for improbable touchdown passes came from a 1975 Dallas Cowboys win at the Minnesota Vikings, when Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach threw a pass about 50 yards with seconds remaining that won a playoff game.

Staubach said he told reporters after the 17-14 win as a joke that he closed his eyes and said a “Hail Mary” prayer after being knocked down on the play.

Arizona’s Hail Mary was No. 1 on SportsCenter’s top-10 plays and Solomon received a helmet sticker from Lou Holtz on ESPN Gameday Final. Sports Illustrated named it the play of the week.

The hashtag #CALvsAZ was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States on Saturday night and #HailMary was sixth.

A California win seemed so likely that the Golden Bears’ official store sent an email that said “CAL WINS” and offered 25 percent off of hats to celebrate.

@calbearsshop apologized on Twitter saying, “Sorry everyone, we just got a little bit too excited. Our mistake is your win. The hat sale is still on. Have a great weekend.”

“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.”

Cal craziness

Arizona’s win on Saturday was wacky, but it was just another game in the wild Cal series.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series 16-14-2 now and now 22 of those games have been decided by one possession, including the last four.

In 1996 and 1997, Arizona and California combined to play six overtimes. In 1996, Arizona lost 56-55 after failing on a two-point conversion in the fourth overtime. In 1997, the NCAA changed the rule to require teams to go for two after the second overtime.

The Wildcats won the 1997 game 41-38 in double overtime.
In 1993, Cal knocked Arizona out of the Rose Bowl by rallying from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win 24-20.

In 2009, when Dykes was Arizona’s offensive coordinator, former Wildcat Nick Foles threw a pass on fourth down that was deflected, which Foles caught and threw to Delashaun Dean. However, it was ruled an illegal forward pass and Arizona, which was losing by two, lost when it was moved out of field goal range and failed on fourth down.

Keeping up with the Joneses

On Monday, the Pac-12 named Arizona redshirt sophomore receiver Cayleb Jones its Offensive player of the week.

Jones caught 13 passes for 186 yards and scored three touchdowns. The 186 yards is the 12th most in school history and his three touchdowns is tied for the UA record and leads the NCAA.

The Texas transfer leads the Wildcats in receiving yards (475) and receiving touchdowns (six) this season.

We’re (no longer) going streaking!

After Solomon finished with 46 yards rushing, freshman Nick Wilson with 33 and senior Terris Jones-Grigsby with 28, the Wildcats saw a streak end.

Arizona produced a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive games, a streak that tied the longest for any Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1996.

Current Chicago Bear Ka’Deem Carey started the streak by running for a Pac-12-record 366 yards against Colorado on Nov. 10, 2012.

UA shares the mark with Nebraska, which had 20 from Oct. 9, 1999 to Dec. 30, 2000. Cal is third with 18 games in 2004-05.
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Follow James Kelley on Twitter @jameskelley520

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