ARIZONA 10 CALIFORNIA 9

Late-show drama

For 2nd straight game, Wildcats score on last drive to stay unbeaten
2010-09-26T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:25:00Z Late-show dramaRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 26, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Nick Foles ran to the line of scrimmage with 2 minutes 37 seconds remaining and took stock.

Timeouts: zero.

Yards to go: 77.

Best receiver: Hurt.

Momentum: Nonexistent.

The Arizona Wildcats' quarterback took a deep breath and spoke up.

"All right," he said, "let's go win this."

The 14th-ranked Wildcats inexplicably did, going the length of the field on their final drive for a surprising 10-9 win over Cal in the teams' Pac-10 opener at Arizona Stadium.

Arizona caught its share of breaks on the way to its first 4-0 start since 1998.

Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed two field goals, including one that would have put the game away with 2:37 remaining. Wideout Juron Criner, dogged all week by turf toe, was able to muster enough energy to make two great catches on the Wildcats' final drive. His leaping, 3-yard grab with 1:11 left gave the Wildcats the lead - and a major sense of relief.

And Foles, who threw an interception and fumbled earlier in the game, found his groove at the right time. The junior completed 25 of 39 passes for 212 yards and a score.

"In the past, we weren't good enough to win games like this," UA coach Mike Stoops said. "Cal went on the road and did a good job coming here and keeping us out of the end zone. We knew it would be hard to win tonight."

Few thought it would be so ugly.

Neither team scored a touchdown before the final drive, a shocking fact given that Arizona and Cal had combined for 87.3 points per game through the first three weeks of the season.

With both offenses rendered ineffective, Saturday's game dissolved into a battle for turnovers and special-teams supremacy.

Cal (2-2 overall, 0-1 Pac-10) won on both ends - until Tavecchio missed a 40-yarder as the Golden Bears drove to put the game away.

"I wanted it bad," he said.

Tavecchio had been solid, hitting three of four field goals in a game marked by stout defense and sloppy offensive play.

The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) took over at their own 23-yard line, and promptly racked up a first down. On first-and-10 from the 37, Foles found Criner for a 51-yard completion, moving to the Bears' 12 with 1:30 remaining. The two hooked up again two plays later.

Arizona was facing third-and-one from Cal's 3 when Foles took the snap, turned and fired to Criner in the back of the end zone.

The score - and Alex Zendejas' ensuing PAT - gave Arizona its first lead of the night. By then, about 12,000 fans had already gone home, convinced the Wildcats couldn't pull it together.

Stoops didn't blame them.

"We came out tonight and were pretty flat," he said. "The crowd was flat, and it was just pretty low-energy all the way around. … Teams that want to win championships have to find ways to win, and that's what we did tonight."

Arizona was sluggish - and, worst of all, sloppy. The Wildcats were penalized 10 times for 99 yards, a week after being flagged for 103 penalty yards.

Arizona moved deep into Cal territory on its second possession, but Conan Amituanai and Phillip Garcia were called for holding and hands-to-the-face penalties. The Wildcats moved back toward midfield, and were forced to punt. Garcia took a second holding call with 1:25 remaining in the quarter.

Stoops called the penalties, which included two hands-to-the-face calls and a late-hit, "foolish."

For now, thanks to Foles, they're forgotten.

"To go down and have another game-winning drive like that," Foles said, "it shows what kind of a team we have."

Up next

• Who: Oregon State at Arizona

• When: Oct. 9, time TBA

• TV: TBA

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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