The Arizona Wildcats came from behind to beat the Nevada Wolf Pack in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Read on to see how the Wildcats did it, including who was selected as the defensive and offensive MVPs.
The Arizona Wildcats traveled to Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl and needed a late comeback to defeat Nevada 49-48. Here's how they did it:
With just 1:48 left in the game, Nevada's kicker, Allen Hardison, seemed to end the game with a 25-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 48-35. Arizona struck quickly, with Austin Hill scoring just over a minute later. Linebacker Marquis Flowers recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Wildcats marched down the field, scoring in just three plays to take the 49-48 lead.
Flowers won the Gildan New Mexico Bowl Defensive MVP Award. He finished the game with ten tackles on the game, the onside kick recovery, and an interception on the final Nevada drive of the game that sealed the win for Arizona.
Arizona wore red helmets for the second time this season and the second consecutive game. The Wildcats also wore navy jerseys and red pants. In their previous appearance, the Wildcats lost to ASU using the red helmets, but the New Mexico Bowl had a different outcome
Late in the second quarter Matt Scott thought he had scored on a short touchdown run, but the referees reviewed the play and ruled that he was down a yard shy of the end zone. Ka'Deem Carey scored on the next play and it was a big moment in the game, allowing Arizona to tie the game, after trailing by 21. It was also a big moment in Arizona history as Carey scored his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season, breaking the Wildcats' single season record.
Scott, playing in his final collegiate game, took home the New Mexico Bowl Offensive MVP award, despite playing poorly for parts of the game. He completed just 28 of 47 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing two picks. However, Scott was a perfect 8-8 on the final two drives, leading his team to victory.
Arizona's leading rusher was Ka'Deem Carey, who finished with 172 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was good enough to retain the NCAA rushing title as Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson rushed for 180 in the game, but remained 46 yards behind Carey. The Arizona tailback finished the season with 1,929 rushing yards, the most in Arizona history.
Cody Fajardo did his best to help the Wolf Pack win the game, but it didn't seem to be enough. The sophomore was 22-31 for 255 yards through the air with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Fajardo also carried the ball 22 times for 139 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Austin Hill had a tremendous game for the Wildcats. Just a sophomore, Hill had a game-high nine catches for a game-high 179 yards. Two of those catches were for touchdowns, with one coming in the final two minutes of the game.
With Arizona trailing 14-0 early in the game, the Wildcats were looking to answer. Nevada had other plans. Jared Baker returned the football from the end zone, weaving through defenders. A Wolf Pack defender hit Baker, jarring the ball loose. The Wolf Pack recovered and scored on a pass the very next play, giving Arizona a 21-point deficit.
At times during the game, it seemed like each team was going to pull away and put the game out of reach. Nevada was leading early in the game after scoring 21 unanswered points and looked to be in control of the contest. Arizona answered with 21 unanswered points of its own to tie the game, which let the Wildcats keep the game close at the end of the first half.