Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: the 10 biggest game-winning kicks in UA history.
To understand the meaning of the 1979 Territorial Cup, try to absorb the ongoing domination of Arizona State.
The Sun Devils had won 13 of the last 14 against Arizona.
Arizona had not won in Tempe since 1961.
Arizona State had played in seven bowl games in the 1970s. Arizona: None.
A year earlier, in Tucson, the Sun Devils won 18-17 when the Wildcats missed a 45-yard field goal attempt with five seconds remaining.
But on Nov. 24, 1979, at Sun Devil Stadium, the Wildcats —11 point underdogs — lined up for a winning 37-yard field goal with three seconds left. The game was tied at 24.
UA coach Tony Mason inserted walk-on freshman Brett Weber to kick. He missed. Same old, same old.
But a charging Sun Devil lineman knocked Weber to the ground, a roughing penalty, and Weber got a second chance, from 27 yards. The clock said 0:03.
On the sideline, as ASU called a timeout in an attempt to unnerve the freshman kicker, Mason asked Weber what he wanted for Christmas.
“A new pair of skis,” said the Southern California kicker.
But Mason had another gift in mind. If Weber was to make the kick, Arizona would get a Fiesta Bowl berth over the Sun Devils. The Fiesta Bowl would be played on Christmas Day.
As Weber walked back onto the field, he got Mason’s attention and worked his arms in a maneuver like a downhill skier. Either way, it would be Christmas. Weber made the kick.
“I know exactly how (ASU) feels,” said Mason, referencing the ’78 game. “I was so happy for Brett. If he missed again, he may have been ruined.”
Star beat writer Bob Moran began his game story with this paragraph: “It was improbable, it was spectacular, it was dramatic, it was pulsating, it was perhaps the most exciting game ever played between Arizona and ASU.”
Here’s our list of the top 10 game-winning kicks in UA football history: