No. 12 — Zendejas’ 57-yard FG ties UA record, keeps ASU out of Rose Bowl againby Javier Morales on Aug. 20, 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. 12 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 12 days away.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 16, No. 20 ASU Sun Devils 13
DATE: Nov. 23, 1985
SITE: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, 72,345 (largest crowd at a sporting event in Arizona at the time)
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Poor John Cooper. Yes, the former ASU coach guided the Sun Devils to their first Rose Bowl appearance in 1986, but he never beat the Arizona Wildcats in three tries. In the season Cooper and ASU went to the Rose Bowl, the Wildcats dominated the Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium in a 34-17 win. In the season after in Tempe, all the Sun Devils had to do was get a punt off in the waning seconds to beat the Wildcats. The punter fumbled and Arizona tied the game on a field goal to extend “The Streak” to six games without a loss to the Sun Devils. Cooper then left to Ohio State.
The fourth game in “The Streak” — Arizona’s unlikely win in 1985 — happened because of the foot of place-kicker Max Zendejas and the questionable play calling of Cooper (who was in his first season in Tempe).
All the Sun Devils needed was a tie against Arizona to advance to the Rose Bowl after they learned that first-place UCLA lost earlier in the day to USC. ASU, 8-2 and on a six-game winning streak, appeared headed to Pasadena with the game tied at 13-13 and 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils had possession after advancing 12 yards from its 20 to the 32.
Cooper called a running play on first down to eat some more clock. But instead of executing at least two running plays to chew up more clock, Cooper went with the high-risk choices of passing on second and third down. The risk backfired. After quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst threw an incompletion on second down, Arizona nose guard Stan Mataele sacked Van Raaphorst and caused a fumble, which Mataele recovered at the ASU 20.
That gave Zendejas the opportunity to make a game-winning 32-yard field goal with 1:43 left as the Wildcats prevented their rivals from the Rose Bowl for the second time in four years. ASU also needed at least a tie in 1982 to advance to the Rose Bowl under Darryl Rogers but lost 28-18 in Tucson — the beginning of “The Streak”.
“Would I go for a tie this time? Yes, sir, I’m smarter now,” Cooper was quoted as saying by The Los Angeles Times following the 1985 season. “It was a good ballgame, and we played pretty well. But people around here say you’ve got to do two things — beat the U of A and go to the Rose Bowl.”
In the 1985 game, ASU had averaged 42 yards punting against Arizona, which was ineffective on offense that evening. The Wildcats finished with only 186 total yards on offense, compared to ASU’s 362. The Wildcats had only 10 first downs to the Sun Devils’ 23. The UA’s special teams accounted for all 16 points in the game. Playing close to the vest — instead of passing on second and third down — was the wise choice for ASU with the Rose Bowl in the balance.
Other mistakes — and Arizona’s opportunistic defense and special-teams plays — also cost ASU.
>> On their final drive of the first half, the Sun Devils advanced from midfield to the Arizona 17. With eight seconds left, Cooper did not elect to try a 34-yard field goal. Instead, a Van Raaphorst pass was intercepted. The game remained tied 3-3 at the half.
>> With ASU leading 13-3 in the third quarter, the Sun Devils’ Anthony Parker elected to catch and run a punt from the ASU 16-yard line instead of calling for a fair catch or letting the punt go potentially to the end zone for a touchback.
Instead, Parker was stripped of the ball by UA linebacker Byron Evans on the return. The ball bounced into the ASU end zone and Don Be’Ans recovered for the touchdown, cutting the ASU lead to 13-10. A fair catch by Parker would have secured ASU’s 13-3 lead over an Arizona team that ran the ball 39 times for only 44 yards.
The Parker fumble and UA touchdown was sweet justice for Evans, who is from Phoenix and wanted to play at ASU but was not recruited by the Sun Devils. Evans never lost to ASU while at Arizona.
>> At the start of the fourth quarter, ASU drove the ball from its 20 to the Arizona 5, setting up a 22-yard field-goal try for freshman kicker Kent Bostrom. He missed the kick that would have given ASU a 16-10 lead.
>> Zendejas missed a 52-yard field goal attempt later in the fourth quarter, but the left side of the Wildcat line moved just before the snap. The dead-ball foul nullified the miss and made it mandatory to penalize the Wildcats five yards. UA coach Larry Smith did not hesitate to allow Zendejas to try again from 57 yards out with 5:29 remaining.
Zendejas tied a school record with the 57-yard attempt, easily clearing the cross bar by at least 10 yards. The kick, dead center, tied him with Lee Pistor for the longest field goal in UA history. It also tied the game with ASU at 13 and set up Zendejas’ game-winner from 32 yards with 1:43 remaining in the game. In 1983, Zendejas made a 45-yard field goal as time expired to give the UA a 17-15 victory in Tempe.
“I’m pretty sure they hate me here,” Zendejas was quoted as saying by The Arizona Republic. “I’m just glad I got the opportunity. It’s something I dream about. I’m always looking for glory.”
The Wildcats’ win gave them consecutive victories against ASU at Sun Devil Stadium for the first time. The UA beat ASU at Goodwin Stadium, the previous Tempe venue, on consecutive times in 1953 and 1955.
Arizona and ASU finished tied with UCLA for first place in the Pac-10 with two losses. The conference played an uneven schedule back then as UCLA finished 6-2 and Arizona and ASU were 5-2. UCLA won the tie-breaker because it beat ASU and UA in head-to-head competition. ASU lost 18-17 to Arkansas in the Holiday Bowl while UA tied Georgia 13-13 in the Sun Bowl to close out the season.
No. 13 — Arizona blows 20-point lead and shot at the Rose Bowl with 1993 collapse at California (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 14 — UA upsets No. 2 UCLA in 1980 when Bruins appeared ready to be No. 1 (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 15 — L.A. Times reporter: Arizona shows “fight of wildcats” in 1914 game vs. Occidental (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 16 — UA leads UCLA late in third quarter but loses big in 12-1 season (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 17 — Unranked Arizona upsets Ohio State, Woody Hayes in Buckeyes’ 1967 opener in Columbus (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 18 — Arizona and hasty coach Mudra lose Ultimatum Bowl to ASU in 1968 (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 19 — Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 20 — Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 21 — Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 22 — Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 23 — Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 24 — UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 25 — Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma (WildAboutAZCats.com)
No. 26 — UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 27 — Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 28 — UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 29 — Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 30 — Arizona win on last-second FG over ASU ends Kush dominance in series (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 31 — Arizona reaches its zenith under Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 32 — Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 33 — Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 34 — ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 35 — Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 36 — Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 37 — USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 38 — Arizona shows signs of life under Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 39 — Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 40 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time (TucsonCitizen.com)
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)