After the California Golden Bears had made it a 45-30 game with 5:21 left in the game, I made my way down to the Cal sideline, just like any other home Arizona game.
Except, it ended up being not like anything anyone had ever seen before.
By the time I had made it down to the field, Arizona was already on the opposite end of the field thanks to a long Anu Solomon pass to DaVonte' Neal. I made my way around the Cal bench in time to have Trey Griffey catch a ball right in front of me. Then two plays later, I watched Terris Jones-Grigsby just absolutely hammer a dude on his way into the endzone.
But it was still an eight point game after Casey Skowron's extra point.
The Arizona Wildcats lined up with two kickers for the onside kick, and when Skowron's ball bounced up into Cal player's hands, it looked like the game was over. But that Bear grabbed the ball and threw it out of bounds, which we all thought was illegal, but weren't totally sure about until the penalty became official and Arizona was going to rekick.
The Wildcats ran the exact same play, but the second time, the ball found its way into Tra'Mayne Bondurant's grasp, just adding to the ridiculousness that was his night, the first time he had seen significant playing time this year after a drama-filled offseason.
Arizona got to the Cal 15 on a defensive pass interference call, which, to say the least, did not go over well with Sonny Dykes and his crew. Dykes was about five yards from me, at the end of the team's sideline box, screaming at anyone and anything that would listen to him.
The very next play, Cayleb Jones made his way into the endzone for his third score of the night. After a failed two point conversion attempt to Jones, it was 45-43 with just under three minutes left.
Another double-kicker onside kick, but once again, it went straight to a Cal player, and this time, they didn't throw it out of bounds. The Wildcats defense was going to have to step up.
You could feel the energy down on the field. Even though a solid chunk of fans had already left, it was loud. I could feel it in my bones that something special was about to happen. But that feeling was put to the test when Jarvis McCall got burned for the thousandth time on the night, and was called for defensive pass interference, giving those Bears a first down.
Cal fans and assistants that were around me were freaking out, claiming victory. Pac-12 Networks sideline reporter Jill Savage was lining up her postgame interviews with Cal media relations. It felt like the game had been sealed.
But after two rushing plays of four yards, Dykes put Luke Rubenzer in at quarterback on third and six. Why? Who knows. But he did it, and Reggie Gilbert and Scooby Wright brought Rebenzer down behind the line to force a 47-yard field goal attempt.
After a lot of conversation about the game clock and the play clock and a Cal timeout, it was time for James Langford to attempt the kick. I was shocked when Arizona didn't seem to get a lot of pressure on the line, but it wouldn't matter.
You could see it from the second it left Langford's foot that it was going to miss left. But still, Arizona was only going to have 52 seconds and no timeouts.
Right away, Solomon went to Cayleb Jones looking for the big play, right in front of where I was standing. Looking at it live, it seemed like it was just two guys fighting for the ball. But watching it back on the video board and now on TV as I write this, it was definitely offensive pass interference on Jones. And he said as much in the postgame press conference. Jones said he felt like he had cost the team the game on that play, and frankly, so did the rest of us.
When the flags came out, Sonny Dykes was pumped. He thought he had come to Tucson and won his first conference game at Cal. Everyone around him was pumped. People that weren't Cal officials were taunting the Arizona fans sitting at the bottom of the west stands.
The penalty put the team back on their own 15, but three completions later to Nate Phillips, Trey Griffey, and Austin Hill, Arizona had a first down, which stopped the clock just long enough for the line to run up and Solomon to spike the ball with four seconds remaining.
The ball was at Cal's 47, so it was going to have to be a Hail Mary. Not quite close enough to give Casey Skowron a chance to win it.
So all of us along the sideline started running towards the endzone, since that's where the ball was going to have to go. I did not make it very far, as Arizona had cheerleaders over there, something that doesn't usually happen.
Everyone was pulling out their cell phones and video cameras, hoping to catch an historic moment on tape.
I stopped as Solomon rolled around out of the pocket.
The stadium fell totally silent.
I watched as he released and looked and saw three big white jerseys in the corner.
Then the ball disappeared into the group.
Then the ref's hands went up.
All hell broke loose. I was fighting through the cheerleaders, and the Cal fans and administrators, and the photographers just to try and get closer. I saw Austin come out of the mess with the ball. I saw RichRod running down the sideline. And then the best thing. I saw Scooby Wright grab the cheerleader's flag with the Block A and start running all around the field, waving it around.
But those first few moments were some kind of giant blur. I don't think anyone knew how to respond.
It was just an overall feeling of shock for both Arizona and Cal fans. What had we just witnessed? Where did this fourth quarter fit into the history books? Did Cal really just blow that enormous lead? Did they really let Arizona's three biggest receivers stand in a big group and not bat down the ball?
This was a team that was losing by 18 points to start the fourth quarter and 22 at halftime. Then to add to it, there were former basketball players running around. Coach's family members. Recruits. It was just a giant mob that had formed in the north endzone. There's never been anything like it before, and it will probably be a long, long, time until there's something that even comes close to it.
But I will always have the memory of being on the field during arguably the most memorable play in the history of Arizona football. And the memory of Sonny Dykes thinking he had won a big game, only to have his, and everyone that's ever rooted for Cal, hearts ripped out.
So crazy. What a great night to be an Arizona Wildcat.