There are no style points in football, and the Arizona Wildcats wouldn’t have earned any Saturday afternoon if there were.
On a day when quarterback B.J. Denker entered a bit banged up, All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey was favoring an ankle and defensive cornerstone Jake Fischer didn’t play, Arizona cobbled together enough plays to turn back pesky Cal 33-28 in Berkeley.
“As I told the team, it’s not pretty,” coach Rich Rodriguez said in his postgame interview on 1290-AM (KCUB).
“But we don’t worry about being pretty. We just want to be resilient.”
Arizona fell behind 7-0 after the opening possession but immediately answered with a tying touchdown and then went ahead 9-7 late in the first quarter on a safety. The Wildcats never relinquished the lead but couldn’t make the Bears disappear from the rear-view mirror, failing to lead by more than two scores at any point.
The Cats stiff-armed Cal with the help of two second-half interceptions. The first, by Jonathan McKnight at the Cal 27, led to an Arizona touchdown and a 33-21 lead. The second was by Jourdon Grandon in the end zone on the ensuing possession.
Cal closed to within five points on super catch by Kenny Lawler for a 29-yard score with 1:42 left. Arizona has seen some wild endings in Memorial Stadium in the past quarter century, but this one ended quietly, without further incident.
McKnight snagged an on-side kick, Carey ran for a first down … and it was victory formation time for the Wildcats.