Arizona’s season opener against NAU at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 2 is 41 days away. To go along with the countdown to kickoff, this site will publish the Top 50 games in Wildcat football history.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 28, Arizona State Sun Devils 18
DATE: Nov. 25, 1988
SITE: Arizona Stadium, 56,978 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Entering this final game of the year against arch-rival ASU, Arizona quarterback Ron Veal — who split time with SMU transfer Bobby Watters — had one touchdown pass all season.
Veal equaled that with one miraculous throw in the last play of the first half — a 55-yard Hail Mary pass to receiver Derek Hill, who snagged the ball out of teammate Melvin Smith’s hands and darted into the end zone as time expired.
The touchdown pass was one of three for Veal and it gave the Wildcats a 21-18 lead — an advantage the Wildcats would not relinquish. Running back Alonzo Washington also scored twice, catching one of Veal’s touchdown passes, as “The Streak” reached seven games against ASU. At that point, the Wildcats were 6-0-1 against ASU since 1982, when “The Streak” began with another 28-18 victory in Tucson.
The “Hail Mary” pass to Hill (at the 2:00 mark of the accompanying YouTube video) is one of the signature plays of “The Streak”.
Hill, 44, died in January of 2012 of an apparent heart attack. He led Arizona in receptions in three of his four years with Arizona from 1985-88. The Wildcats finished the 1988 season on a three-game winning streak and 7-4 overall record. They tied for third in the Pac-10 at 5-3. The Sun Devils ended the season 6-5 and 3-4.
Veal played one of his most efficient games with Arizona although he completed only 6 of 15 passes for 148 yards. The Wildcats increased their lead to 28-18 on the first play of the fourth quarter, as Veal connected with Washington on an 11-yard scoring pass to cap a 20-play, 82-yard drive. Veal also completed a touchdown of 47 yards to Hill in the first half. Washington, whose first score came on a 10-yard run, carried 24 times for 150 yards.
Arizona’s Brett Holley pinned the Sun Devils on their 3-yard line with 4:07 remaining with a 46-yard punt. Then on a fourth-and-2 play, Wildcat defenders batted away Paul Justin’s pass to seal the victory. ASU scored first to lead, 6-0, and also led 12-7 and 18-14 before Arizona, Veal and the Wildcat defense took control.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.