Arizona Football

Reliving five greatest games between Arizona Wildcats and Utah Utes

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5. Arizona 16, Utah 15, Rice Stadium (Salt Lake City), Nov. 16, 1968

The UA, 8-3 and Sun Bowl participants that season, trailed Utah 15-0 entering the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Bruce Lee (not the famed martial-arts actor) threw two touchdown passes and sophomore place-kicker Steve Hurley made a 27-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give the UA the win.

Tucson Daily Citizen sports reporter Dave Spriggs wrote this account: “With approximately four minutes remaining, a group of children put the finishing touches on a ‘Go Utah’ message written in the snow at the south end of the stadium. At about the same time Arizona’s Frank Jenkins, suffering from numbness in his legs, brought on from standing in ankle deep slush on the sidelines, separated Utah’s Ray Groth from the football and Tom Cooley recovered for the Cats.”

4. Arizona 17, Utah 16, Arizona Stadium, Nov. 15, 1969

The Wildcats snapped Utah’s seven-game WAC winning streak in the upset victory. Utah, an 18-point favorite, had a WAC title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl in its sights. The win improved UA’s record to 2-6.

The Redskins, as Utah was called then, dominated the statistics, outgaining Arizona by more than 100 yards and getting 24 first downs to UA’s 12. However, the Utes couldn’t find the end zone and lost on a 21-yard field goal by Hurley with 21 seconds remaining.

Arizona’s defense, which got two interceptions and two fumbles, kept Utah’s offense in check.

3. Utah 16, Arizona 13, Freedom Bowl (Anaheim, Calif.), Dec. 27, 1994

Arizona’s “Desert Swarm” defense was led by All-American defensive end Tedy Bruschi; Utah’s defense was led by All-American defensive tackle Luther Ellis.

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This is a Tucson Daily Citizen picture of Arizona's 16-15 win over Utah in Salt Lake City on Nov. 16, 1968. The caption refers to former UA reserve quarterback Bruce Lee, who engineered a fourth-quarter comeback in a heavy snowfall

This is a Tucson Daily Citizen picture of Arizona’s 16-15 win over Utah in Salt Lake City on Nov. 16, 1968. The caption refers to former UA reserve quarterback Bruce Lee, who engineered a fourth-quarter comeback in a heavy snowfall


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Utah managed only 75 yards total offense and five first downs. When Utah needed it the most, its offense came through. After Cal Beck returned a kickoff 72 yards to the Arizona 5-yard line, the Ute offense stalled for three downs. On fourth-and-goal and only 3:34 left in the game, QB Mike McCoy tossed up a desperation pass to freshman Kevin Dyson in the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

The Wildcats had two chances to score a touchdown and did not convert on both. Tight end Tim Thomas and receiver Lamar Lovett each dropped a pass in the end zone.

2. Arizona 38, Utah 35, Rice Stadium (Salt Lake City), October 30, 1976

Arizona’s Lee Pistor kicked the game-winning 41-yard field goal with 10 seconds left despite a snap that rolled on the ground to holder Scott Baker.

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The Wildcats rallied from a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter behind three touchdown passes thrown by Marc Lunsford. Keith Hartwig caught two of those touchdown pass.

The go-ahead drive consisted of a 38-yard pass by Lunsford to Hartwig. On the play, Utah was assessed with a personal foul penalty that moved the ball to the Utes’ 24, setting the stage for Pistor.

The Tucson Citizen front page showed Utah's historic fourth-quarter comeback against Arizona in 1972

The Tucson Citizen front page showed Utah’s historic fourth-quarter comeback against Arizona in 1972

1. Utah 28, Arizona 27, Rice Stadium (Salt Lake City), Nov. 30, 1974

The Wildcats led 27-0 after the start of the fourth quarter and they appeared headed to a 4-0 record in the WAC and probable appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Embattled coach Bob Weber looked as though he could breath easier after suffering through three consecutive losing seasons to start his UA career. The Cats were turning the corner — or so it seemed before they hit a dead end.

The Utes made an improbable comeback, scoring the go-ahead touchdown and extra point with 10 seconds remaining to defeat the shell-shocked Cats.

It stands as the greatest comeback by a UA opponent in the football program’s history.

“I don’t want to bore you guys with the word, but ‘Momentum’ is a word that I’ve learned to really spell,” Weber told reporters a day after the collapse against Utah.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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