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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats scratch out Hawkeyes

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

In a matchup of ranked teams, No. 24 Arizona took on the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A stout defense and pesky special teams helped the Wildcats to a 34-27 upset victory.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat In a matchup of ranked teams, No. 24 Arizona took on the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A stout defense and pesky special teams helped the Wildcats to a 34-27 upset victory.

Head coach Mike Stoops walked off of the field wiping tears of joy from his face, players ran to the locker room screaming “”We going to the Rose Bowl,”” and no one in all red could hide the implications of Arizona’s 34-27 victory over Iowa on Saturday night.

The Wildcats’ back-and-forth win against the then-No. 9 Hawkeyes in front of nearly 60,000 fans and a national audience was more than just an upset win against a ranked opponent in mid-September.

“”It’s a character game in a lot of ways,”” said Stoops, who opened up his press conference claiming he was speechless. “”Those can be program-changing wins.””

Senior defensive end Brooks Reed called it “”the biggest win I’ve ever been involved in,”” and said, “”I’ve never been so happy after a game in my life.””

Stoops told his team the win ranked amongst his top two or three wins of all time, and nose tackle Lolomana Mikaele admitted that Stoops “”started dancing for a little bit”” in the locker room after the game.

The victory was Arizona’s biggest non-conference win in nearly 20 years, and catapulted the Wildcats to No. 14 in this week’s AP Top 25 — their highest ranking since 1999.

“”I know this was a huge win for us and for our program,”” said co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish. “”It gives us an opportunity to move forward from here and see where it takes us.””

But the victory didn’t come easily, as Arizona’s will and determination was tested after imploding and allowing a 20-point lead evaporate. Receiver William “”Bug”” Wright fumbled a punt on Arizona’s 18-yard line, which set up an Iowa touchdown to make it 27-21 Arizona. Quarterback Nick Foles then promptly threw the ball right into Iowa defensive end Broderick Binns, who waltzed into the endzone to tie it up at 27 with 8:12 on the clock.

But after Arizona blocked Iowa’s extra point to stay tied, Foles and the Arizona offense drove downfield to take back what it nearly relinquished.

Foles, who finished with 303 passing yards, two scores and an interception, hit Wright in the back of the endzone on a pressure-packed third and goal from the 4-yard line, giving Arizona the lead.

“”I think those are character-building drives and changing drives for programs and perception drives,”” Stoops said. “”That’s a big one by a big-time player and a good football team.””

Iowa still had a chance to answer, with just under four minutes on the clock, but Arizona’s defense gave Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi and company no breathing room.

The Wildcats brought the heat with a formation they hadn’t showed all season, and it worked perfectly, resulting in four straight sacks to close out the game — two from redshirt freshman Justin Washington, and one each from Reed and senior Ricky Elmore.

“”We felt like we needed to come after them because the last thing we wanted to do was sit back and play a soft defensive coverage,”” Kish said. “”We decided to pin our ears back and see where it took us, and the little bit of a gamble paid off.””

Aside from 12 penalties and a pair of costly turnovers, Arizona was impressive in almost every phase of the game, and the Wildcats couldn’t have picked a better time to prove their worth than against a top-10 team on ESPN.

They played up to the competition, battled adversity and captured one the biggest wins Tucson has seen in two decades.

“”I’ve never been a part of a game like that, where we challenged a higher ranking team,”” Reed said. “”Man, everything came together and guys made big plays.

“”This game is definitely a corner-turner.””

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