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Our starting quarterback and star linebacker are injured, we’re facing the #10 team in the nation, it’s the last home game of the year, we’re one win away from a bowl game. This game is huge. We need to win.
Ten-thousand of my closest friends are right alongside me, watching nervously as we get the ball to start the second overtime.
First play, Jerrard Randall drops back in the pocket and fires a rocket to a streaking Nate Phillips.
The stadium erupts as Nate Phillips crosses the goalline to put the Wildcats up by seven in double overtime.
ZonaZoo is going WILD, high-fives and chest bumps abound as we know we just need one defensive stop to secure the victory.
“U OF A! U OF A! U OF A!” the capacity crowd chants in harmony. While every single individual in this stadium has a different backstory, different beliefs, different jobs and family, each one of them is now united as one. At that moment we were all Arizona Wildcats.
Every single one of the 55,000 souls in Arizona Stadium rises for one final possession. It’s Utah ball. If the Utes score a touchdown the game goes into a third overtime, anything less, Arizona wins the ball game.
All 55,000 Wildcat fans in the stadium are screaming and hollering louder than they ever have before, as Utah hikes the ball on first down.
Three yard pass.
Third down. The stadium is now shaking.
Run for a loss of one yard.
Fourth down. THIS IS IT.
The Utah QB drops back as time begins to move in slow motion, I look over to the right side of the field and notice that a gap as opened up for the QB to run for a possible first down.
As if right on cue, ZonaZoo begins screaming, “DON’T LET HIM RUN!!”
The Utah QB spins, evades another tackle, and sprints for the first down on the right side of the field.
Collectively the hearts of the fans in the stadium dropped. It was fourth down. We were one down away from beating the #10 team in the nation and we let their QB run for a first down.
As my head hung low I noticed that fans started to get back on their feet. This wasn’t over, not by a long shot. Utah still needed a touchdown and our Wildcats needed all the support they could get.
Once again the stadium rises on unison and begins screaming. This is it. This is our final stand.
The Utah RB scampers to the Arizona eight yard line for a three yard gain.
Down goes the Utah QB. Two minutes prior he had just saved the game for the Utes, and look now how the mighty have fallen. Nine yard loss.
It is now 4th and 16. The Utes need 16 yards to keep the game alive.
The noise is now deafening. The young and the old and everyone in between are screaming at the top of their lungs, giving their all to will our team to a victory.
ZonaZoo is creeping up towards the edge of the boundaries. There’s only one thing on their mind. Rushing the field.
The Utah QB drops back and once again time begins to move in slow motion. A Utah wide receiver sprint downfield, hoping to be the hero of the game. The QB begins throwing the ball, a tight spiral towards that wide receiver. The crowd holds their breath as the ball flutters in slow motion over the cool desert air.
WILDCATS WIN THE GAME!
The stadium erupts in jubilation as the ten-thousand strong of ZonaZoo pour over onto the field in complete and utter pandemonium.
I remember jumping over the wall thinking, “is this really happening?”
It was, and every ZonaZoo member began rushing towards the middle of the field in celebration of our team’s final home victory and a win over a top-ten opponent.
As the celebrations began to die down I began reflecting on what had just happened, and all I remember thinking was, “there’s no place I’d rather be than the University of Arizona.”
I’ll never forget that day. The tailgates. My friends and family. The crowd. The excitement and the disappointment and then back to the excitement. Rushing the field.
To say I’m a passionate Arizona Wildcat fan might be a bit of an understatement.
Having been born right here in Tucson I’ve been an avid supporter of Arizona Athletics all of my life. I went to my first basketball game when I was five, my first football game when I was six, and have never looked back since.
Arizona Wildcat sports have always been such an amazing part of my life and it’s seriously always been my dream to support our Cats in the ZonaZoo. I never could have imagined how unbelievably incredible the experience would be.
I promise you you’ll love attending football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and many more incredible sports as much as I have throughout my nineteen years of living in Tucson. It’s just another great reason to attend the University of Arizona. The passion Wildcat fans and students have for their school is unrivaled by any University in the United States.
I certainly hope to see you in the Zoo next year as we cheer on our Cats to more exciting victories!
And as always, BEAR DOWN!