Bowl season started with a bang on Saturday, with the Arizona Wildcats using two scores in the final minute to defeat the Nevada Wolf Pack 49-48 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
It looked like Nevada had the game in hand when Allen Hardison hit a 25-yard field goal with 1:48 left to give the Wolf Pack a 48-35 lead, but Matt Scott and the Arizona offense had other ideas.
Scott found Austin Hill for a two-yard score with 42 seconds left, and the Wildcats recovered the ensuing onside kick, giving their offense one last gasp with very little time remaining.
But Scott wouldn't be denied. His touchdown toss on a two-yard slant to Terrence Miller tied the game at 48 apiece, and John Bonano added the extra point to give the Wildcats the decisive edge.
Nevada tried to get back into it on its final possession, but Cody Fajardo was picked off by Marquis Flowers to seal Arizona's victory once and for all.
The final score shouldn't be surprising to anyone, despite Arizona's remarkable comeback. Both of these teams know how to score points, especially leaning on two of the nation's most underrated running backs.
Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson scored the first touchdown of the game, finishing with 164 yards and two touchdowns overall, and his team ran the initial margin up to 21-0 before Arizona found itself again.
Scott played a big role in the comeback, but ball-carrier Ka'Deem Carey's 171 yards and three touchdowns made the biggest difference overall.
This electric finish has to make college football fans giddy for what's to come throughout this bowl season.
Let's look at some tweets and name a player of the game.
Bleacher Report's tweet during the game showed that it wasn't all pleasant for the Wildcats in this one:
Arizona teammates fight on the sideline. GIF: ble.ac/SYFYC0— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 15, 2012
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel points to the irony of the game's final play:
Amazingly the game ends on a defensive play. Arizona wins the New Mexico Bowl.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 15, 2012
Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer tells everyone that he has an interesting project in his future:
Holiday project of mine: [record all of Arizona's missed tackles] [cues up Benny Hill theme music] [puts on YouTube]— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) December 15, 2012
Las Vegas Sun reporter Case Keefer shows how fast Arizona's comeback really happened:
Got in the shower with two minutes left in the New Mexico Bowl thinking it was over. Should have known giving up 14 in 1:48 is easy for UNR
— Case Keefer (@casekeefer) December 15, 2012
Rich Cirminiello pointed to Arizona's defensive deficiencies:
There aren’t many JUCOs Rich Rodriguez and his staff won’t be visiting during this recruiting cycle... Arizona needs defensive bodies— Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello) December 15, 2012
Player of the Game: Matt Scott
Carey gets most of the attention for the Wildcats, but Matt Scott was unflappable in this one. He knew what he needed to do to complete the comeback, and he made it happen.
He finished 27-of-45 for 369 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He didn't play a flawless game, but he delivered when it mattered the most.
Arizona's offense is fun to watch because it's balanced. Scott's ability to make all the throws allows that to happen, and he put on a show on Saturday.