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Dr. Saturday

Arizona makes a miraculous comeback in final minute and beats Nevada to begin bowl season

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

The best bowl game of the 2012-13 season might end up being the first. It's going to be difficult to top the drama of the New Mexico Bowl, with Arizona pulling off a nearly impossible victory in the final minute for one of the best bowl finishes in recent memory.

Arizona trailed 21-0 in the first quarter, and 45-28 to start the fourth quarter. The Wildcats trailed by 13 with less than a minute to go. And yet Arizona somehow got a stunning 49-48 comeback win against Nevada to kick off the bowl season with a bang.

Arizona's start was awful, with defensive problems, a key turnover on a kickoff and even a fight on the sideline among teammates in the first quarter. But there wasn't much defense from either side in this game, so the Wildcats stormed back to tie the game in the second quarter.

[Related: Watch Arizona teammates brawl on sideline at New Mexico Bowl]

Nevada took back control of the game with two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter, and when Arizona punted from its own 9-yard line with a little more than six minutes left, the game seemed over. Nevada, which had a bowl record 39 first downs in the game, drove deep in Arizona territory and kicked a field goal with 1:48 left to take a 48-35 lead.

Arizona needed a miracle at that point, and got one.

Neither defense offered much resistance, with the teams picking up 1,234 combined yards, and Arizona moved 75 yards in 1:06 to score a touchdown to pull within six points. Two questionable pass interference penalties were worth 28 yards. Nevada will bemoan those calls for a long time.

Even with that touchdown, Arizona needed an onside kick and a touchdown drive and had just 42 seconds. The Wildcats got the onside, and then Arizona quarterback Matt Scott moved his team downfield remarkably fast. Completions of 28 and 21 yards on Arizona's first two plays set up a 2-yard touchdown on the third play, and the Wildcats had 19 seconds to spare. The extra point gave Arizona the game-winning point.

It was the first time the Wildcats held the lead the entire game.

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