Observations: Arizona vs. Nevada

Tyler Slavin

The Wildcats stormed back to defeat Nevada 49-48 in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl. Read on for numerous news, notes, and observations on how the Wildcats won.

Arizona concluded the 2012 college football season with a wild, come-from-behind victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack in the New Mexico Bowl.

UA trailed by two touchdowns with under a minute to play, but the Wildcats were able to come away with an onside kick after cutting the Nevada lead to six with just 42 seconds to play.

Quarterback Matt Scott proceeded to drive the offense down the field and throw the game-winning touchdown pass to complete the unlikely comeback.

It was a game that featured very little defense with both teams combining for over 1,200 yards of total offense and 97 points. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense on a consistent basis, but the contest did feature six turnovers and some sloppy play on both sides of the ball that allowed the opposing team to benefit. In the end, it was the team that made the most prominent plays – Arizona – that won the game.

  • Matt Scott had an up-and-down game, but his performance over the final two minutes of the play earned him MVP honors for the New Mexico Bowl. In his final game, Scott finished with 369 yards through the air and three passing touchdowns. The senior threw two of those three touchdown passes in the final two possessions of the game and the pair of late drives allowed everyone to forget his inconsistency earlier in the contest – which included two interceptions. The two big drives allowed Scott to end his college career on a high note.

  • Ka'Deem Carey had a strong afternoon, doing the majority of his damage in the first half. The sophomore running back concluded the afternoon with 171 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the winning effort.

    Carey racked up most of his yardage in the first half, gaining 145 in the first two quarters. His play in the first 30 minutes is what allowed Arizona to climb back in the game after falling behind by 21 points in the first quarter.

  • Wide receiver Austin Hill put together one of the best games of his young college career. The sophomore caught nine passes for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hill caught nearly everything that was thrown in his vicinity and proved to be a complete mismatch for the entire Wolf Pack secondary.

  • Tyler Slavin – who was constantly referred to as Terrence Miller on television – caught four passes for 39 yards, but no reception was more important that the game-winning touchdown. Slavin – who had just 18 receptions through the first 12 games – positioned himself perfectly to catch a two-yard touchdown pass from Scott that ultimately won the game.

  • UA was able to pull off the comeback despite putting forth another rough performance on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats yielded 658 yards of offense to Nevada, 403 of which came on the ground. Both quarterback Cody Fajardo and running back Stefphon Jefferson ran the ball with consistent success and made the depleted Arizona defensive unit look ugly for much of the contest. It wasn't all fun and games for Jefferson, however, as he fumbled the ball three times, losing possession on two of those cough-ups.

  • There were several instances throughout the game where Arizona had opportunities to pack it in and let Nevada run away with the game, but found ways to battle back each time. The Wolf Pack came out with more fire and took a 21 point lead in the first 11 minutes of play, but UA refused to panic and battled back.

    In the second half, Nevada regained its early momentum and extended the lead to 17 points by the late third quarter, but the Wildcats still refused to quit. The late surge in the fourth quarter was the second time Arizona showed its guts on Saturday and it gave UA its only lead, as well as the victory.

  • Arizona found a way to win despite holding possession of the ball for over 18 minutes less than Nevada. UA's fast paced offense scored 49 points while in possession of the ball for just 20:50 of the entire contest.

  • The brightest star on the defensive side of the ball was linebacker Marquis Flowers. The junior was helped off the field with an apparent ankle injury early, but ended up returning and having a big performance. He collected 10 tackles – one for loss – and also picked off a pass to seal the game not too long after recovering the onside kick that gave the Wildcats their last offensive possession.
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