1995: Prasuhn's precision completes comeback

2013-07-13T00:00:00Z 1995: Prasuhn's precision completes comebackShane Dale Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Excerpt from UA graduate Shane Dale's book "Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert"

Unlike the 1994 game, the fate of the '95 Duel in the Desert rested on the foot of a Wildcat.

After ASU's demoralized offense lost 9 yards on three plays on its next possession, UA got the ball back near midfield. The Wildcats moved down to the Sun Devils' 19-yard line to set up a game-winning 36-yard field-goal attempt for first-year starter and Tucson native Jon Prasuhn (1993-95).

"Growing up in Tucson and pretty much hating ASU, just going into that game - it had a different aura about it," the Salpointe Catholic High grad said. "The way that whole game led up to it, at some point in the fourth quarter I knew it was going to come down to a game-winning field goal, so I started to mentally prepare myself before it came to that point. I just kind of removed myself from everyone else and decided to calm myself down and relax pretty much the whole fourth quarter.

"Thinking back to it and right before I went onto the field, it was almost like an out-of-body experience, because I had really spent that entire last half of the fourth quarter mentally preparing myself and calming myself," Prasuhn added. "I was relaxed. I was so focused beyond anything I'd ever felt in my life. I could feel the pressure, but it was like it was there but it wasn't there, because I was so focused on what I had to do."

When the moment finally came and the ball was snapped, Prasuhn made sure to go through the same motions he went through on any field-goal try.

"I remember trying not to do anything different. I kept my leg down," he said. "I knew it was good before I looked up because our holder had his arms in the air. And then I saw it go through."

One of Prasuhn's most vivid memories is the sound - or lack thereof - inside Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium immediately after his kick.

"The distinct memory I had was the noise going from I don't know how many decibels it was to dead silence," he said. "Our guys were jumping up and down, and Bryan Hand, one of our offensive linemen at the time, immediately grabbed me and picked me up in the air."

The kick put Arizona ahead 31-28 with 22 seconds left - not enough time for Devils QB Jake Plummer to mount one of his comebacks for which he would eventually become known.

Tedy Bruschi recorded 2 1/2 sacks of Plummer in the game, which earned him a share of the career NCAA sacks record with 52.

UA head coach Dick Tomey was impressed with the resilience of his players during that game and throughout the season, especially after one of their teammates, tight end Damon Terrell, collapsed and died during a team workout at the beginning of the season.

"That was a very, very difficult time for our team," Tomey said. "That seemed like, to me, the greatest comeback of all the ASU wins, because that team had experienced that traumatic death of one of our beloved guys and recovered from it, and they were able to win that game. And that was really gratifying."

And despite his completely useless knee, UA wide receiver Richard Dice (1993-96) was on top of the world.

"I remember that night driving back home from Phoenix, and I was in so much pain, but there wasn't one sliver of doubt in my mind that I didn't do the right thing at the time," Dice said. "It was so gratifying just sending all those guys out on top. It was an awesome feeling."

After his game-winner, Prasuhn stayed in the Phoenix area and visited a couple bars with Wildcat punter Matt Peyton to celebrate, and Prasuhn recalled an amusing encounter he had during one of their stops.

"I was in the restroom, and there were a couple ASU (fans) who were at the game talking about, 'Ah, man, I can't believe that game. I can't believe that kicker made that kick,'" he said.

Prasuhn couldn't help but have a little fun with the gentlemen.

"Being a pain in the ass, I chimed in and said, 'Oh yeah, I can't believe it, that sucks,' and totally messing with them," he said. "Little did they know they were talking to the guy who made the field goal."

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