Walking to a tailgate I saw something I have never seen before, a scalper wearing a Hawaii jersey. I almost wanted to buy tickets off of him because of the unique attire. Fellow Cat Tracks staffer John Schuster was doubly impressed because of his admiration for Hawaii 12th year senior quarterback Timmy Chang.
45:00 before the kickoff
I have now lived. I tried my first deep fried turkey and it lives up to the hype. I am going out and buying the deep fryer on Saturday.
27:00 before the kickoff
The ASU coaches show up. Apparently they have an endorsement deal with Oakley Sunglasses as all five are wearing the exact same glasses. In fact they all look the same. I am not sure Dirk Koetter isn't cloning assistants. Four of the five all appeared to be the same age, same height and had the same hair cut.
I can see it now: "No. 1 coach the running backs. No. 2 coach the receivers. No. 3 pick up the dry cleaning. Go, go, go!"
1:30 before the kickoff
The Cats are in the all blue. Normally I'd be upset because they have yet to win in the all blue but apparently the white pants are not holding up very well, while the blue ones have.
14:50 in the first quarter
Big kickoff return for the Devils, but it is coming back because of a penalty. Cats catch a break.
14:16 in the first quarter
Not surprisingly, Walter looks to the tight end, since tight ends are making a living against Arizona. Zach Miller is drilled by Dane Krogstad. Say what you want about Arizona this year, but this defense can flat out hit.
14:10 in the first quarter
ASU looks content to dink and dunk. This was the plan last year. A year ago Arizona shut down the deep ball but the short game got the job done.
10:29 in the first quarter
The Devils drive inside the 10, but can't convert and have to settle for a field goal. This could be good news for Arizona as they usually make great adjustments after the first drive.
9:57 in the first quarter
The Cats go deep on first down. Kovalcheck looks for freshman B.J. Dennard but overthrows the young wideout. A month ago Dennard was a corner back. Of course two months ago Kovalcheck was the fourth string qb behind two guys who are no longer in the program.
7:56 in the first quarter
Syndric Steptoe has to leap up to snag a high throw. It was a great grab, but it looked even better because Steptoe is 5-8. That same pass probably hits Stevel Fleming in the chest.
5:41 in the first quarter
Ricky Williams catches a pass on a receiver screen. It is the 19th consecutive game with a catch. Ricky was one of the nicer guys on the team and this is his last game.
5:27 in the first quarter
The Cats march down the field but stall inside ASU territory. Instead of going for it on fourth and two, the Cats bring in the field goal team. All Nick Folk does is knock a 53-yarder through the uprights. Astounding but true. Folk is one of five UA kicker to make a field goal that long. Without looking up up I'd say the others would be Max Zendejas, Steve McLaughlin, John Prasuhn and Matt Payton. I'll look it up later. (Note: it was Lee Pistor not Payton)
3:40 in the first quarter
Walter goes long to Hagan and puts it right in his hands. Wilrey Fontenot was all over Hagan but the pass was perfect. Not sure how good Walter will be in the NFL, but there is no doubt that he can throw the long ball as well as anyone. I have a feeling the Raiders are drooling over Walter's arm.
2:54 in the first quarter
Walter does not throw the short ball as well. He misses an open receiver for a touchdown and the Cats slam the door shut on fourth down. It was not quite James DeBow, but it was a nice stop. Cats could have momentum.
Wait, the Cats have to blow a timeout to avoid the delay of game. Not how you want to come out after a change of possession.
1:55 in the first quarter
The Cats are called for a delay of game. So far they have used two timeouts to avoid the penalty and been flagged once. Not good.
1:32 in the first quarter
So much for momentum. The Cats turn over the ball. Kovalcheck throws into traffic. Two receivers run into each other and the ball deflects up into the air. An ASU defender hauls it in and returns it inside the Arizona 10 where he fumbles the ball. After a scrum the Devils recover.
After the whistle a Wildcat and a Sun Devil are flagged for personal fouls. The Wildcat? Richard Kovalcheck. You don't exactly want your quarterback getting into scuffles after the play with defensive linemen.
The irony of the situation is that Mike Bell forced the fumble.
Two plays later ASU scores a touchdown to go up 10-3.
11:50 in the second quarter
The Cats force a fumble and recover. It is the 16th fumble recovery of the year, second best in the Pac-10. I would not have guessed they had that many, but they did recover a ton against Washington State. One thing this team does do well is try to rip the ball away on gang tackles.
11:32 in the second quarter
Kovalcheck floats a perfect touch pass to Steve Fleming for a 54-yard score. Fleming's defender fell, which allowed the tight end to score, but at worst it would have been a 20-yard gain because the throw was perfect.
Fleming has probably worked his way back into the NFL Draft and a lot of the thanks goes to Kovalcheck who has made the big tight end one of his favorite targets. After draft day Fleming owes Kovalcheck diner.
They just announce that this is the first time the Cats have scored 10 points in the first half. That is really a sad stat.
10:32 in the second quarter
Cats get another fumble. Carlos Williams forces the fumble and Kirk Johnson scoops it up returning it to the 24. So far it has been all seniors in this game. Fleming has the td. Williams has the two forced fumbles and a recovery, while Johnson has this recovery.
10:00 in the second quarter
Kovalcheck is crushed on first down. Two Devil defenders meet at Kovalcheck and knock him out. Kris Heavner is scrambling to locate his helmet.
9:50 in the second quarter
Heavner completes a pass for nine yards and is then pulled for Kovalcheck, who appears fine. If that is his only pass he will have a very nice quarterback rating.
8:20 in the second quarter
Kovalcheck finds Fleming and the officials inexplicably give Fleming an extra half yard on the spot. For the second time all year the Cats catch a break from the refs. Will they take advantage?
7:16 in the second quarter
The Cats clock management woes continue. First they have trouble getting the play in, but still get to the line only to have a player jump. Then they have to burn the timeout anyways after the penalty. Maybe the athletic department should look into the wiring in the press box. The Cats haven't been able to signal plays in efficiently since Larry Smith was the coach. Schu thinks there has been a 17-year problem with the coaches' headsets.
6:22 in the second quarter
I have now seen it all. On fourth and short inside the 10 the Cats appear to go for it, but all they want to do is attempt to draw the Devils offsides. ASU does not bite and Kovalcheck attempts to call a timeout he does not have. In hoop it would be a technical, but it is not a penalty in football. The Cats are flagged for delay of game and settle for a field goal.
4:16 in the second quarter
Devils go three and out and the Cats have a chance to grab the momentum, but fumble it away. Kovalcheck is being sacked, but instead of eating it he holds the ball out and it is stripped. A Sun Devil runs it in for a 24-yard score and the lead.
It gets worse, the Cats only return to the kickoff to the 12.
3:20 in the second quarter
Gilbert Harris (or whatever he's calling himself these days), gets back to back carries. Now the Cats have a third and long.
On third down Fleming drops a pass. It wouldn't have been a first down anyways unless the officials helped out.
2:32 in the second quarter
Great run back for the Devils. Danny Baugher saves the touchdown with a big hit that knocks the returners helmet off. How much has Stoops changed the program, even the punter can lay the wood.
2:10 in the second quarter
ASU has to settle for a field goal. Ainsworth hits his own man in the back and the ball ricochets to midfield. The Cats get a penalty when they blast the kicker in the pile. The replays seem to indicate that Tucsonan Stephen Berg was the player the kick hit in the back. He got pushed back into the backfield, but the kick was a line-drive.
0:42 in the second quarter
For the second time in three plays Mike Bell slips and falls. The first came on a long run that he may have broken. The second came on a halfback option play where he had no one to throw to and tried to get out of bounds but slipped in play which hurts because the Cats have no timeouts.
0:07 in the second quarter
Kovalcheck to Jefferson in the back of the endzone. THE CATS REGAIN THE LEAD. This one has all the makings of one of those weird games from the 90's.
0:00 in the second quarter
The Cats almost give it back. Terry Richardson returns the kickoff 67 yard to the Wildcat 20. Thankfully there is no time left.
13:46 in the third quarter
Baugher saves his second touchdown of the day when he slows up Richardson with another big hit. If he keeps this up he'll have Coach Kish begging to convert him to linebacker.
12:43 in the third quarter
The Devils lose another fumble. This time Hakim Hill fumbles at the nine-yard line and the ball rolls into the endzone where Kirk Johnson recovers. What a great final game for Johnson, a guy who has an up and down career.
ASU has had three trips inside the ten and only three points. Nice to see an opponent with those numbers and not the Cats.
11:54 in the third quarter
Mike Bell busts a 57-yard run. That's the good news. The bad news is that Bell looked like he held the ball up as if he felt he was going to score. He was brought down from behind.
9:53 in the third quarter
Gilbert Harris scores!!! Arizona leads 27-17. The27 points is the most for the Wildcats all season.
9:42 in the third quarter
Wilrey Fontenot picks off Walter. Everything seems to be going Arizona's way. On first down the Cats go for the jugular and throw deep, but Kovalcheck can't connect. Three plays later Nick Folk misses a 53-yarder (into the wind). The Cats could not take advantage.
1:59 in the third quarter
Walter throws a long ball to Hagen for a touchdown, but it is called back because of a hold. Walter, who struggled at the start of the quarter, is hot. He has connected on two straight long balls.
14:16 in the fourth quarter
Cats get another break. Antoine Cason commits pass interference but Terry Richardson, the ASU receiver stepped out before the pass interference, making him an ineligible receiver and therefore a player who can't be interfered with. Devils settle for the field goal.
13:27 in the fourth quarter
B.J. Dennard hauls in a long catch for his first career reception. He stretched up, kept his feet in bounds and gained 33 yards. After the catch he runs to the sideline where Stoops is waiting with a hug. And Sun Devil fans say players don't like his antics, I'm guessing the ecstatic Dennard would disagree. BTW half of Dennard's family played football for ASU and he grew up in Phoenix.
9:40 in the fourth quarter
Cats recover their fourth fumble of the game. The ball is knocked out by fifth-year senior Pat Howard and recovered by Dane Krogstad.
9:32 in the fourth quarter
Mike Canales says to go for the jugular and Kovalcheck complies. He and Mike Jefferson connect for a 47-yard touchdown. Welcome out of the doghouse Mr. Jefferson.
9:11 in the fourth quarter
I'm feeling confident but Schu just pointed out that ASU has come back from being down 11 with 6:00 to play and 17 with 8:00 to play. ASU is completing pass over the middle but the Wildcat linebackers are making them pay.
7:31 in the fourth quarter
Cats get a huge break. Terry Richardson appears to make a spectacular catch but is drilled by Tony Wingate. Mysteriously the official rule him out of bounds, even though he was a yard and a half in bounds when he went up for the ball and had his head and shoulder land in bounds when he hits the turf. Not sure why the officials are siding with Arizona today, but they picked the right game. My theory is that they are religious and are offended by the satanic imagery of the Sun Devils.
7:30 in the fourth quarter
Andrew Walter is down and he looks VERY injured. It is his shoulder and it looks bad. After several minutes he comes off the field and looks like he won't return. Sam Keller gets the chance to be the hero.
5:58 in the fourth quarter
Apparently Keller is best when he is about to be sacked. He has completed three passes while in the grasp of a Wildcat defender.
BTW Walter is taking off his shoulder pads. He is done.
Keller leads them to a score. This one is not over.
5:30 in the fourth quarter
Schu and I leave the press box and head down to the field. We enter the stadium and it is packed. It looked like a good crowd, but the West Side is jammed.
3:36 in the fourth quarter
All the Cats need is a first down. Gilbert Harris is in the game and you can't help but think back to the Washington State game. Harris gets the call and slips in the backfield untouched. The Cats will have to punt.
2:20 in the fourth quarter
Sam Keller gets a chance to be a hero. If he sends this one to overtime he will forever etch his name in the lore of this rivalry.
2:10 in the fourth quarter
This is as loud as I have heard it in years. It is really good to see. If the team starts winning it will be like this every week.
1:45 in the fourth quarter
Keller makes a big play. A 42-yard pass gets the Sun Devils to the Wildcat 23. Is this one destined for overtime?
1:35 in the fourth quarter
Keller complete his fourth pass while in the clutches of a Wildcat defender. This guy is putting on a show. And to think that a lot of Sun Devil fans question whether he is the guy next year.
1:29 in the fourth quarter
Keller's luck runs out. He tries to make another pass to avoid the sack, but this time he is flagged for grounding.
1:19 in the fourth quarter
Fourth and long and Keller hits Matt Miller, except the usually sure handed receiver flat out drops the pass. He had the first down and more but just dropped it. He rips off his helmet and starts screaming. He'll relive that one for quite awhile. If he wasn't a Sun Devil I'd feel bad about it.
Jason Johnson and Glen Parker are on the sidelines, both with huge grins on their faces. Johnson just got back from Canada where he was a back-up QB in the CFL.
Three knees and this one is over!
0:00 in the fourth quarter
ARIZONA WINS! The students flood the field. A large gathering surround Mike Stoops and serenade him with chants of "Stoops, Stoops, Stoops!"
It is pandemonium, but it is well behaved. The kids are excited, but civil. There are a lot of recruits here, several of whom are whooping and hollering.
The P.A. announcer says "don't even think about climbing the goal posts". Of course everyone does. Good thinking.
E-mail Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org