No. 40 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first timeby Javier Morales on Jul. 23, 2012, under Sports
In the 50 days leading up to Arizona’s season-opener against Toledo, on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium, TucsonCitizen.com and its affiliate WildAboutAZCats.net will rank the Top 50 games in the history of the football program. The ranking is at No. 40 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 40 days away.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 35, USC Trojans 26
DATE: October 20, 1990
SITE: Los Angeles Coliseum, 68,212 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The “Fumblerooski Game” in which Arizona beat USC and its former coach Larry Smith, enabled the Wildcats to sweep USC and UCLA for the first and only time in Los Angeles in the same season. It was also the first time Arizona beat the Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum since the Wildcats upset the top-ranked Trojans in 1981. USC was 5-1 and ranked No. 15 at the time of the 1990 game. It was coming off three consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl under Smith, who coached Arizona from 1980-1986.
Arizona offensive guard Rick Warren, a walk-on transfer from Pittsburg State College in Kansas, ran 28 yards on a fumblerooski in the fourth quarter, setting up what proved to be the winning touchdown. On second down from the 31, center Paul Tofflemire intentionally left the ball on the ground for Warren, who had lined up at left guard. As quarterback Ron Veal faked a handoff into the line and the Trojan defenders looked on bewilderingly, Warren picked up the ball and carried it 28 yards. The fumblerooski took the ball to USC’s 3-yard line. One play later, Veal scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 28-17.
“It’s as old as the hills,” Arizona coach Dick Tomey told the Los Angeles Times about the fumblerooski, “but you’ve got to have the guts to use it.”
Tomey used it twice previously in 1990 — gaining 24 yards for a touchdown in the season-opener against Illinois (seen on accompanying YouTube video) and no gain against Cal.
“It’s called 13 fumblerooski,” Warren told the Times. “Thirteen is our option play left. On the 13 fumblerooski, everybody else goes left and I go right.”
The NCAA banned the fumblerooski two seasons later deeming intentional fumbles to be illegal.
Veal, a reserve, directed four second-half touchdown drives against USC, scoring three himself. Darryll Lewis, a senior and converted running back, set up two of the touchdowns with punt returns and twice intercepted passes thrown by the Trojans’ Todd Marinovich.
The 1990 season, in which Arizona finished 7-5, was one of the best in terms of standout plays, including the fumblerooskie. Lewis was a part of a couple of others — the game-preserving tackle against Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave at the 1-yard line enabled the Cats to beat the No. 23 Ducks 22-17, and his 70-yard interception return for a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter lifted the UA to a 28-21 win over UCLA. In the Oregon game, Musgrave sprinted to the goal-line on the last play of the game and Lewis met him at full speed. Lewis’ force won, as Musgrave was stopped inches from scoring. Lewis, the 1990 Jim Thorpe Award winner, also had two interceptions in the game against the Ducks at Arizona Stadium.
No. 41 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 42 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 43 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 44 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 45 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 46 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 47 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 48 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 49 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians (TucsonCitizen.com)