UA football stuns Washington with last-second FG

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                </div>  The University of Arizona football team has been leading a charmed life this season.  The theme of their 2014 campaign could be “The Great Escape.” But this latest escape, […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The University of Arizona football team has been leading a charmed life this season.  The theme of their 2014 campaign could be “The Great Escape.”

But this latest escape, a last-second, one-point win over Washington, tops the charts.

This time the karma began to take effect even before halftime arrived.

The Wildcats were behind 17-7 with 5:16 left in the first half and looked to have the momentum going into the locker room.  But Arizona used a fake kick that enabled the kicker, Casey Skowron, to run in from 18 yards out – and then a Huskies’ fumble four plays later gave the Cats the ball on Washington’s 19-yard line and enabled Arizona to score again with just eight seconds left in the half.

The result was an Arizona lead going into intermission, and a huge swing in the pendulum.

“The fake was something we’ve been working on all week,” Skowron explained after the game.  “It was a type of fake that we knew we were going to run and it was just a matter of getting the ball in the right area.  I just put my head down, waited for the snap, and I was ready to go.”

But a 47-yard field goal by Skowron was the real dagger through the heart of the Washington fans as the redshirt junior spit the uprights as time expired to give Arizona a 27-26 victory that pushed their season record to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12.

That record could be much different, however, except for a number of similar close calls that have gone the Cats’ way this season.

The game against California will long be remembered after Austin Hill pulled down a 47-yard ‘Hail Mary’ pass as the clock ran out to come back from a 22-point halftime deficit and beat the Golden Bears, 49-45.  In the game against UT-San Antonio, it took an interception in the final 1:20 of the game to pull out a three-point win.   And the Wildcats were able to hold off a late surge by Nevada that went down to the final possession of the game before Arizona could claim the seven-point victory.

It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how Arizona could be 5-5 (as Washington was coming into yesterday’s game) and still looking for that sixth win that would make them bowl-eligible.

And now an improbable conclusion to another game that appeared lost, but was pulled from the fire in the final moments.  To put an exclamation mark on the goofy nature of yesterday’s win… the kicker scored more than half the team’s total points.  Skowron booted a pair of field goals and three extra points – and also scored the first touchdown of his college career – for a total 15 points.

This game-winner should help shed some of the guilt that Skowron has been living with since the USC game in mid-October when he missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt in the final 17 seconds, dropping the Cats from the ranks of the unbeaten in front of a sold-out home crowd and national television audience.

Yesterday’s performance, again at home, went a long way toward erasing the sting of that failure.

But there were at least two more heroes in this game, the guys who gave Skowron the chance to win the game with his foot.  It was Tra’Mayne Bondurant, the Cats’ senior safety, that forced a Washington fumble with just 1:23 remaining in the game, and sophomore linebacker Derrick Turituri who recovered the ball for the Cats.

Freshman running back Nick Wilson and sophomore wide receiver Samajie Grant led the way for the offense, with Wilson picking up 104 yards on 30 carries for his fifth game with 100 or more yards rushing, and Grant contributing 85 yards on four catches.  Redshirt senior safety Jared Tevis led the defense with a game-high 14 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble; Jourdon Grandon added 12 tackles and Scooby Wright finished with 11.

The Cats’ eight wins already equal all they managed last year when they posted a second straight 8-5 season, and head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t appear too concerned about how they get them:  “As a player or football program, your status is based on wins.  No matter how you win, you’re considered better than average when you do.  I’m proud of our guys and this team.”

Of course, the more wins, the better chance for a better bowl invite.  But that’s something Rich Rod doesn’t want his players spending too much time thinking about.

“I think they are aware of it (bowl possibilities), but we don’t talk about it a lot,” he says.  “This week I talked a lot about not being average, but being special.  I don’t worry about our guys thinking too far down the road because I think they worry about just getting through practice.”

The next stop on the road to a bowl consideration comes next Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, when the Cats take on Utah.

That game could turn into a speed bump.  The Utes are ranked No. 25 and just beat Stanford in double overtime.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)