Arizona's Hail Mary: An inside look

Arizona won Saturday's game against California in improbable fashion. Read on for a closer look at how the game-winning Hail Mary went down.

Down 28-6 at one point, Arizona found itself in a position to defeat Cal on Saturday night.

Starting on its own 29 with 52 seconds left, Arizona got a 41-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Cayleb Jones and it appeared that the Wildcats were in business.

Until the entire stadium heard the ref call Jones for offensive pass interference, bringing Arizona back to its own 15.

Solomon found Nate Phillips for nine yards, but threw an incompletion on the next play as the impossibility of winning kept increasing.

On 3rd and 16, Trey Griffey caught a nine-yard pass and if it was going to have any type of opportunity to win, Arizona needed a long fourth down conversion.

Enter Austin Hill, who caught a 20-yard pass and gave the Wildcats one more chance from Cal’s 47.

Two plays later, Solomon let the ball fly to the back corner of the right side of the end zone and Hill came up with the game-winning catch in what may be the most improbable win in school history.

“There is always a combination of both (luck and skill),” Rich Rodriguez said. “If you throw it up to Austin (Hill), Cayleb (Jones) or Trey (Griffey). We work on that one day a week on Thursday.

“This week we did a little more, we did two different kinds of Hail Marys. Particularly where the ball needed to be thrown. I said to aim for five yards into the end zone and I think that was seven and a half.”

It didn’t matter whether it was five yards or seven, asAustin Hill wasn’t going to let go of the ball once he got it.

Anu (Solomon) threw a great ball and I'm just happy I was able to make the catch,” Hill said. “The whole time I was hoping that I wouldn't get bumped into or anyone land on top of me so I could secure the catch.

It means a lot to me that I was able to secure the catch. Especially since the offense came back so strong and the defense was playing their butts off. So I was happy I was able to do it for the team and get the win that we deserved.”

One of the aspects of the play that may be overlooked is the fact that Cal decided to drop more men into coverage rather than trying to formulate a pass rush.

That strategy would be a major topic of discussion for Cal Defensive Coordinator Art Kaufman.

“They were in some long-yardage situations, and we just brought three, at times,” Kaufman said. “I would say most of those passes in there, we had four down. The ball got out quickly, and we’ve just got to be able to fit it up at that point in time. I probably would make a different call. We’ve practiced that.”

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