The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

103° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

In the Nick of time

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.

No matter the sport, every team needs a closer that’s going to make the clutch play when others are afraid to fail.

For the New York Yankees, it’s Mariano Rivera. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s Kobe Bryant. And for the Arizona Wildcats, it’s Nick Foles.

Despite losing a fumble, throwing a redzone interception and facing relentless pressure all game, Foles put on his game face and led Arizona on a seven-play, 77-yard game-winning drive, hitting receiver Juron Criner for a 3–yard touchdown with 1:11 left to play.

The even-keel junior quarterback blocked the turnovers out of his mind, and facilitated a game-winning drive for the second consecutive week.

“”He’s a big-time player. He gets in and watches a lot of film and we need that in a quarterback,”” running back Nic Grigsby said of his quarterback. “”When you have a guy that can go out there and be calm like that on a last drive, you’re going to win a lot of games.””

There are very few players that have the ability to forget about what happened the first 58 minutes of a game and focus on the task at hand. But fortunately for the Wildcats, Foles is one of those players.

“”He’s gutsy, he’s going to grind it out,”” co-offensive coordinator Seth Litrell said of Foles. “”He’s never been a guy that gets too high or too low and that’s what we have to have offensively.””

The Arizona offense was out of rhythm from the second Foles stepped under center to start the game. Among the 10 penalties for 99 yards, the countless dropped balls and numerous off-target passes, nothing was going right for the Wildcats.

But Foles oozes confidence, and once he saw Cal miss the field goal that would have put the game out of reach for Arizona, he said, “”Let’s go win this.””

Using the 72-yard game-winning drive he led against Iowa as a template, Foles went out and geared that added experience toward keeping Arizona undefeated heading into its bye week.

“”You just learn from everything, no matter what you do in life,”” Foles said of the Iowa and Cal game-winning experiences. “”Just having moments like that, it makes you grow as a person. It makes your character grow and it’s good that we had that.””

Criner goes from no-show to hero

While Foles is becoming Arizona’s ultimate closer — every Michael Jordan needs a Scottie Pippen — and Criner is becoming exactly that.

Foles was certainly the brains behind the game-winning drive Saturday night, but no player came up bigger than Criner.

He didn’t practice until Thursday because of turf toe, was tabbed a game-time decision and didn’t enter the game until nearly 10 minutes into it. But yet Criner came up with the two biggest plays of the game — a 51-yard jump ball to bring Arizona to Cal’s 12-yard line, and a 3-yard, game-clinching touchdown with 1:11 left on the clock.

“”For him to go out there and play, we needed him to gut it out, we needed him to pull this one out and he made the big play when we needed it,”” head coach Mike Stoops said of Criner.

The 6-foot-4 receiver explained he was dialed-in when the ball was in the air, blocking out the crowd noise and focusing in on the ball.

“”When you’re focused like that and you execute, big things happen,”” Criner said.

“”If I’m between the defender and the ball, I’m definitely coming down with it.””

Litrell said the 51-yard grab was on a play simply called, “”Throw it to Juron,”” and Foles said he knew Criner would come up with the catch as soon as he released it.

“”I just started running downfield because I knew he was going to catch it,”” Foles said. “”I could just see it. As strange at it is, as far down field, I could just see his body going toward the ball and when he’s like that, with his arms in the air, he’s going to come down with it 99 times (out of 100).””

Criner, who finished with five catches for 68 yards, didn’t look like himself all game, and was shut down with single-coverage. It seemed he would be a non-factor after a ghost-like performance for the first three quarters. But like Foles, Criner turned it on when it mattered most and helped Arizona steal one from the Golden Bears.

Stoops said there’s no other player in the country he would rather have jumping up to grab a deep ball like the 51-yard bomb he hauled in.

“”He does that to our guys all the time,”” Stoops said. “”I always get on our guys for not competing with him but, he does it in every game against other people too. It was a classic catch by him.””

More to Discover
Activate Search