Sept. 25, 1999
WSU 24, ARIZONA 30
(September 25, 1999, Pullman, Wash.): A tight battle in the massive Palouse winds ended in disaster for WSU, as Arizona scored on the final play of the game to win 30-24. A sparse crowd of 26,787 watched the Cougars extend their losing streak to 12 games. The loss drops WSU to 0-4 on the season, 0-2 in Pac-10 play, while Arizona improved to 3-2 overall, 1-1 in the Pac-10. After a pair of three-and-outs, Arizona got on the board first with 6:20 left in the first quarter. Powered by 4-of-5 passing by Ortege Jenkins, the Wildcats drove 55-yards on eight plays before Trung Canidate forced his way into the endzone for a one-yard score. Driving into the wind on its first possession of the second quarter, the Cougs moved 64 yards on nine plays. Steve Birnbaum found Farwan Zubedi in the corner of the endzone, to make it 7-7 with 11:31 left in the half. Later, after the WSU defense pushed Arizona backward, the Cougars took possession at the Arizona 42 yard line with 3:41 remaining in the second quarter. Four snaps later, Rian Lindell drilled a 52-yard field goal that gave WSU a 10-7 advantage, which would last into halftime. But on their first possession of the third quarter, the WSU's Deon Burnett fumbled into the WSU endzone where the Wildcats scored a team safety. Then, on WSU's next possession, Arizona's Dennis Northcutt turned a 57-yard Kareem Anderson punt on its head, returning it 68 yards to the WSU 13-yard line. Three Canidate runs later, the Wildcats had their second touchdown. Back-up quarterback Keith Smith then rolled right and found Brandon Manumaleuna for the two-point conversion and the 17-10 Arizona lead with 5:24 left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, back-up quarterback Jason Gesser ran 29 yards and passed for 33, to bring WSU to the two-yard line before Burnett found the endzone and knotted the score at 17-17 with 10:15 remaining in the game. But Arizona was not through. Eating up 5:36 of the game clock, the Wildcats drove 80 yards on their next possession to regain the lead. Canidate, who finished with 158 yards on 34 carries, amassed 22 yards on the drive and his third touchdown of the afternoon to put Arizona up 24-17 with 4:39 left. On WSU's next possession, and on its second play from scrimmage, Burnett busted loose on the left sideline for a 55-yard touchdown run that tied the game 24-24 with 4:14 left in the game. On its next possession, Arizona was driven backward 11 yards on three plays and forced to punt. WSU then took control at its own 47 yard line, but the Cougars gained only eight yards on three plays and punted away to the Wildcats. Arizona's final possession -- the last of the game -- began at its own 20 yard line with 1:56 left. Eight plays later, the Wildcats stood at the WSU 42-yard line with five seconds left in the game and no timeouts remaining. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Smith fired into the left corner of the endzone where the ball ricocheted off the hands of several players before the Wildcats' Bobby Wade controlled it from his back for the winning touchdown. Arizona kicker Mark McDonald missed field goals of 50, 43, 40 and 32 yards in the game.
NOTES & QUOTES:
ONE TO REMEMBER: "If you want crazy finishes, apparently you just come up here when we play," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. The last time WSU and Arizona squared off in Pullman in 1997, it went to overtime. Saturday, it appeared that 1999's match-up would be a repeat performance. But as the final seconds slipped away, Arizona found the endzone and the win. "It was basically a 'Hail Mary' play," said Bobby Wade, who made the game-winning catch. "The only thing we can do is just release the ball and make sure it's in the endzone, like Keith (Smith) did. It was a beautiful ball, went straight up and fell straight down. I'm in the back of the endzone and it went through everybody's hands and I was just sitting at the bottom of the pile."
But some close to the play wondered whether or not Wade really made the catch. "I wish we had instant replay," receiver Farwan Zubedi said. "I was on the sidelines and I followed the play the whole way. I thought the ball touched the ground and was a bobble." WSU coach Mike Price was unsure on the location of the ball, but more frustrated with the location of the officials. "We're kind of helpless in what we can do in that kind of situation," Price said. "The officials need to make sure they are in the right position. Everybody in the stadium knew the ball was going to one corner or the other. They need to be in the right position to make the accurate call."
Linebacker Steve Gleason, on the field when the play occurred, noted that it was not a one-play game. "I didn't have an angle (visually) on the last play," Gleason said. "I just saw a big pile of people and the touchdown call. It's been like that all year. Things just haven't been going our way. You can't blame it on that."
ONE TO FORGET: The Cougars moved to 9-19 versus the Wildcats with Saturday's loss. In addition, the Cougars altered the record books by losing their 12th straight football game, breaking the school record of 11 set over 1970 and 1971. All this after WSU took a lead into the lockerroom at halftime for only the third time in its last 12 games. "It has been a season of hard times thus far, but I think the Cougs found out who we are today," senior defensive lineman Jesse Ratcliff said. Coach Price echoed the moral victory theory. "I think we won that football game," Price said. "We played like winners. I'm proud of the team and the effort they gave was tremendous. They had the game taken away from them at the end."