By The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat November 4, 1996
BERKELEY, Calif. - Arizona coach Dick Tomey just figured four overtimes were enough, and decided to end the longest football game in major college history with a final touch of drama.
Arizona, faking an extra point, failed to make a two-point conversion in the fourth overtime and lost 56-55 Saturday to California.
''I just felt it was time to win the game,'' Tomey said. ''Whatever second guessing there is to do about this game, blame it on the head coach. I've never been a genius, and nobody's ever accused me of being stupid. I was just trying to find a way to win the damn game.''
Pat Barnes threw for eight touchdowns and 503 yards, both school records, for Cal (6-2 overall, 3-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference). He had scoring passes in the first, third and fourth overtimes.
Keith Smith threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more for Arizona (4-4, 2-3). Jeremy McDaniel, who entered the game with 119 yards in receptions this season, set school records with 14 catches for 283 yards - including two touchdowns.
''It was a gutsy call,'' Barnes said of Arizona's last-play gambit. ''If they would have made it, they would have been the heroes. You're the hero of the game or it's a bad call.''
This is the first year that overtime has been used in regular season games in Division I-A. Earlier this season, California needed three overtimes to beat Oregon State 48-42 in what had been the longest game.
Overtime statistics count toward NCAA and school records.
In the fourth overtime, Barnes threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Marc Vera and Ryan Longwell added the extra point to give Cal a 56-49 lead.
Arizona then took its turn from Cal's 25 and Gary Taylor responded with a 1-yard scoring run.
The Wildcats lined up for the extra point, but holder Ryan Hesson took the snap and flipped it over his head to kicker Matt Peyton - who was buried by Andre Rhodes at the 3 to end the game.
Cal fans, many shivering in the late-afternoon chill, stormed the field as the scoreboard flashed: ''The 8th Quarter is Ours!''
''It took us eight darn quarters, but finally we did it,'' Cal coach Steve Mariucci said. ''I tip my hat to Dick Tomey, because to go for the win was really a gutsy call there. A spectacular call. And we're lucky we rallied to it and tackled the guy, because that would have gone down in history as one of the big plays.''
The teams combined for 1,254 yards.
Barnes, who was 35-for-46, surpassed the Cal record of 435 yards passing he set last week in a loss to UCLA. He also set a school record for TD passes in a season with 25.
Bobby Shaw had seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown for Cal, while Na'il Benjamin added seven catches for 107 yards and two TDs.
Smith went 25-of-35 for 418 yards passing and had 84 yards on 20 carries.
Smith threw two scoring passes in the fourth quarter to rally Arizona to a 35-35 tie. He threw a 25-yard scoring pass to McDaniel on the first play of the first overtime, but Barnes responded with a 20-yard TD pass to Dameane Douglas.
Both teams missed field goals in the second overtime. In the third overtime, Smith ran 11 yards for a score and Barnes threw a 10-yard TD pass to Vera.
Barnes, who has thrown for 1,309 yards in Cal's last three games, had two TD passes each to Vera, Benjamin and Douglas. He also had a 34-yard scoring toss to Deltha O'Neal and a 14-yarder to Shaw.