ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Matt Scott watched helplessly as Nevada kicked a field goal to pad its lead. The Arizona quarterback had already thrown two interceptions, and now needed two quick scores and some luck -- in a hurry, too -- to somehow win the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Scott even admitted he didn't have "positive" thoughts before returning to the field.
But in the final 46 seconds, Scott threw two short touchdown passes and college football's postseason started with a wild one as Arizona rallied past Nevada 49-48 Saturday.
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Overcoming a slow start and three big turnovers, Arizona (8-5) recovered an onside kick in the last minute, setting up Scott's 2-yard toss to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds left for the winning score.
"It's not easy to come back from that situation," Scott said. "You're not necessarily going to think the most positive thing at the time, but we went out there and took care of business. It was just a big drive. I still can't believe it."
Arizona trailed 21-0 in the first quarter and was down 45-28 entering the final period. Scott threw for 382 yards and marched his team back into the game despite those two earlier interceptions.
"I mean, it's improbable," first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.
"Certainly, I've had some games come down to that end," he said. "But to have everything, the defense making the stop, to the field goal, Matt leading the quick drive down there, getting the onside kick ... and then Matt leading down again. It just doesn't happen very often."
The nation's rushing leader, Ka'Deem Carey, gained 172 yards for the Wildcats but fell short of becoming only the 16th running back in NCAA history to reach 2,000 yards in a season.
Arizona receiver Austin Hill caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. The teams combined for 1,237 total yards.
Cody Fajardo threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Wolf Pack (7-6). He had 256 yards passing and 140 yards rushing and controlled most of the game, completing 22-of-32 throws.
Stefphon Jefferson, the nation's second-leading rusher, ran for 180 yards for Nevada and also seemed unstoppable as the Wolf Pack took a big lead and held on to it for most of the game.
But after forcing Nevada to kick a field goal with 1:48 left that made it 48-35, Scott drove the Wildcats down 75 yards in about a minute. Arizona then recovered an onside kick and Scott marched his team into the end zone after three plays and 51 yards.
"They scored 14 points in less than two minutes," Nevada linebacker Albert Rosette said. "I'm still in shock right now."
Nevada coach Chris Ault said the team pass defense just didn't make a play when it was needed.
"Well, it's a sick feeling," he said. "Congratulations to Arizona. They held in there and did it, but it's a sick feeling."
Ault said a late injury to Fajardo also hurt Nevada's running game in the last six or so minutes of the game.
"He ran it one time, just tucking it up in there," Ault said. "But we could not run our read game at that particular time."
Rodriguez, who took a year off from coaching after a disappointing stint at Michigan, is now 3-5 in bowl game appearances. He called his New Mexico Bowl win among his best career wins as a coach.
"It's the latest and the greatest so far," Rodriguez said.
It was over when... Arizona's Matt Scott connected with Tyler Slavin on a 2-yard touchdown pass to tied the game 48-48 in the final seconds. John Bonano converted the PAT to give Arizona the lead.
Gameball goes to... Ka'Deem Carey. In a game built for the quarterbacks, the running back gave Arizona a strong ground game with 172 yards and three TDs on 28 carries. He also had three catches for 15 yards.
Stat of the game... 1,237. That was the total number of yards racked up between Arizona and Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. The two teams combined for 70 first downs.
Austin Hill 63 Yd Pass From Matt Scott (John Bonano Kick)
Allen Hardison 25 Yd
Austin Hill 2 Yd Pass From Matt Scott (John Bonano Kick)
Tyler Slavin 2 Yd Pass From Matt Scott (John Bonano Kick)
Arizona's football and basketball teams both had big comebacks Saturday, leading for a combined 1-minute and 43 seconds.
The football team trailed by as many as 21 points and only led for the final 19 seconds of the game.
The hoops team trailed by 11 with nine-and-a-half minutes left, never led by more than 2, and stormed back, to win by a point.
Arizona trailed Nevada 48-35 with 1:48 remaining in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl before scoring 14 unanswered to win 49-48.
They are the 1st team to overcome a double-digit deficit in the final 2 minutes of regulation to win since Oregon against Oklahoma in 2006.
Overcome 10+ Point Deficit in Final 2 Min. of 4th Qtr
Last 2 Occurrences
Sept. 16, 2006
Trailed by 13
Trailed by 13
Arizona and Nevada combined for 70 1st downs in their matchup in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
That sets a new record for most combined 1st downs in a bowl game, breaking the old mark of 62 set by North Carolina State and Kansas in the 2003 Mazda Tangerine Bowl.
In addition, Nevada had 39 1st downs in the game, breaking the record for most 1st downs by a SINGLE team in a bowl game of 36, first set by Oklahoma in the 1991 Gator Bowl against Virginia and later equaled by Marshall in the 2001 GMAC Bowl against East Carolina.