After finishing the season with an overall record of 4-8 last season, the Arizona Wildcats fired their then defensive minded head coach Mike Stoops and replaced him with the offensive minded Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who was known for making the University of West Virginia a better football program about a decade ago, would have a lot to work with as he would be without Arizona’s graduated quarterback, Nick Foles. During Rich Rod’s first season with the Wildcats, he posted a respectable 7-5 record behind his fifth year quarterback and running ace Matt Scott and the man with the most rushing yards in the country, Kadeem Carey. Despite having a great season, the Wildcat defense still had their struggles on defense because of their 3-3-5 alignment. In this system, they were able to keep their speedy players on the field, but this caused them to lose their bulk as larger offensive blockers would have their way with the smaller and quicker defenders.
Nevertheless, despite the lack luster defense, the team still worked their way back up to the college football post season, where they played against the University of Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico bowl yesterday. Both teams were coming in at 7-5 and both stood in the middle of the pack in their respective conferences. Coincidentally, both teams would struggle that day on the defensive side of the ball.
But this isn’t about my favorite college football season and this is not about my favorite college football game either, it is about my favorite college football moment. After being down by more then three touchdowns late in the game, Matt Scott and the Wildcat offense were able to get the team back to within 6 points with around 44 seconds left in the game. On the ensuing kick-off, I knew that not only would they be onside kicking the ball, but they would also recover. Very few times do I ever get a gut feeling that an onside kick is going to work, but this was one of those times.
Even though onside kick recoveries are not very likely, the Wildcats were able to recover the onside kick and in three plays, Matt Scott was able to get the ball down the field with only 22 seconds elapsed off the clock. The drive ended in a Matt Scott 5 yard touchdown pass and a made John Bonano extra point to make the score 49-48. On the next series for Nevada, their quarterback Cody Fajardo, who had recorded a 255 yard game with multiple all purpose touchdowns, was intercepted by Arizona’s defensive back Brandon Flowers to clinch the first Arizona bowl win since December of 2008, where they defeated BYU in the Pioneer Las Vegas bowl. Although Kadeem Carey was the number one rusher in the nation, it was Matt Scott, who was given the MVP award for the game because of his ability to bring the team back from a three possession deficit to eventually win the football game.
The reason why the moment in time when Matt Scott threw the same winning touchdown is so important was because I remember when the 2009 NCAA Football season was supposed to be his and it was snatched away from a then more NFL ready Nick Foles. I remembered how this moment didn’t make Matt Scott quit on his college career, but rather it gave him hope that he would eventually start for the team down the road. In the end, it was Matt Scott along with his offense that fought tooth and nail to bring a bowl victory to the University of Arizona against all odds.