This list was published in WildAboutAZCats.com as part of its countdown toward the 2010 Arizona football season, which begins Friday night at Toledo
The best play in University of Arizona football in the last 40 years is … Chuck Cecil‘s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against ASU in 1986.
Arizona Stadium has never been more loud in my almost 35 years of experience attending games there. The legendary interception came with 8:56 remaining, as the fourth-ranked Sun Devils, unbeaten and heading to their first Rose Bowl, drove for a touchdown that could have narrowed Arizona’s lead to 24-17.
Cecil stepped in front of Jeff Van Raaphorst‘s pass 7 yards deep in the end zone. He eluded a few ASU tacklers, broke free to the right sideline, and then sprinted to the end zone in what is the most electrifying moment in UA football history, especially in Tucson. The Wildcats won 34-17 and afterward, Cecil remarked: “I hate ASU.”
Why is this play No. 1?: It is the signature play of “The Streak” which turned the tide in the modern era of the series following ASU’s dominance of Arizona in football in the 1960s and 1970s. How often does a former walk-on intercept a pass and run the entire length of the field for a touchdown? Answer: Practically once in a lifetime. Last-second kicks happen all the time — not to take anything away from Max Zendejas and his numerous, important clutch performances — but what Cecil did in 1986 may never happen again in our lifetime. It has not to this point.
Now on to the rest of the list of my Top Ten Plays in UA History (in my lifetime): …