In 1998, there was the famous “Leap by the Lake,” when Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins flipped over a trio of Husky defenders and somehow landed on his feet for the game-winning touchdown in a nail-biting victory over the Huskies.
It helped catapult the Wildcats to a 12-1 season, still their best in program history.
In 2009, Arizona was on the losing end of an improbable play at Montlake when Nick Foles threw a game-losing pick-six late in the fourth quarter that propelled the Huskies to a 36-33 win.
It’s still hard to swallow.
Not just because it cost Arizona an important game it once led by 13 points, but also because it was a straight up robbery.
Up 33-28 with 2:49 left in the fourth, Foles and Delashaun Dean mistimed a bubble screen, causing Foles to fire a pass behind the UA receiver.
As Dean reached across his body to catch it, it ricocheted off his foot and bounced into the hands of Washington linebacker Mason Foster, who returned it for a 38-yard touchdown as the purple-clad crowd erupted into chaos.
Except if you take a closer look, the pass should have been ruled incomplete. The ball also scraped the turf next to Dean’s foot, evidenced by a divot that forms next to his cleat.
Here are a couple freeze frames to prove it. (It’s too bad the video quality back then wasn’t better or else it would have been really clear that it was an incompletion.)
Dean acknowledged after the game that he did feel the ball graze his foot, but was certain it also hit the turf.
“The way the ball bounced up, it would have hit my foot a lot harder,” he told reporters.
The officials reviewed the play but arrived at a different conclusion, and UW escaped with a win. The Wildcats haven’t won in Seattle since.
It was one of two heartbreakers Arizona lost that year, preventing it from making its first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl.
A month and a half later, the Wildcats blew a late lead at home against Oregon, giving up the game-tying score with six seconds left in regulation as Arizona fans prematurely started to creep onto the sidelines in anticipation of a program-defining win over the No. 11-ranked team.
The Jeremiah Masoli-led Ducks then sealed the deal in overtime to hand the Wildcats a crushing 44-41 defeat, even though Oregon trailed by as many as 10 early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona bounced back to beat Arizona State and a ranked USC team to finish the regular season 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-10, tied for second and two games behind the conference champion Ducks.
Ironically, it was the Wildcats’ best regular-season record since 1998. However, if they would have held on against Oregon and the refs made a different call in Seattle, they would have won the Pac-10 and ended their infamous Rose Bowl drought.
Instead they played in the Holiday Bowl and got blasted by Nebraska, 33-0.
That’s Arizona football for you.