It’s up for debate. Which is the signature play in Arizona Wildcats football history: Chuck Cecil’s 106-yard interception return against Arizona State in 1986, or Ortege Jenkins’ flip into the end zone to beat Washington in 1998?
It’s the 15-year anniversary of the latter play, the Leap by the Lake, which came on a late Saturday night in Seattle on Oct. 3, leaving the scribes in the press box scrambling to rewrite their deadline stories as Jenkins’ improbable play gave Arizona a 31-28 victory.
The Wildcats are heading back to Seattle this weekend to play 16th-ranked Washington.
“I wish we had some guys who can leap like Jenkins can leap,” said second-year UA coach Rich Rodriguez. “That was pretty exciting.”
The Pac-12 Networks did a two-hour look-back at the 1998 Arizona-Washington game last fall as part of its “Classic College Football” series. (The Pac-12 Networks will examine UA’s 1992 win over No. 1 Washington later this fall as part of its ongoing series.)
First-year starting quarterback B.J. Denker knows all about the Leap by the Lake (so coined afterward by then-UA assistant media relations director Brett Hansen).
“It’s a huge piece of Arizona football history. That’s the first thing,” Denker said.
“I love it because as a mobile quarterback, I like to dive in the end zone as much as I can. It’s a crazy play. … I’ve heard interviews with him, talking about he didn’t want to be denied getting into the end zone. When I run and I get close to the end zone, that’s my thing, too.”
Denker has better wheels than Jenkins, but as for the leaping ability?
“I don’t really like to do flips,” he said. “But if I need to do it, when the time comes, I’ll sell my body for my team.”
I wrote a long story on the 1998 game on its 10-year anniversary, and here is an amended version that originally appeared in the Tucson Citizen: