By Charles Renning
assistant sports editor
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 5, 2004
I remember where I was when Arizona won its 1997 basketball national championship. I was at a friend's house watching every minute of the Wildcats' overtime win.
I remember I was at a wedding back in December 1998, sneaking to a back room to check a TV, when the Wildcat football team knocked off Nebraska to finish their most successful season in history.
When the UA baseball team knocked off Long Beach State last summer to return to the College World Series for the first time since 1986, I was at home with my family, celebrating every pitch in front of the television set.
But through it all, no UA sports memory stands out more than what occurred on Oct. 3, 1998 - "The Leap by the Lake."
Trailing 24-28, quarterback Ortege Jenkins led the Wildcats on an 80-yard drive capped by probably the most-shown UA sports highlight in history.
In the game's closing seconds, Jenkins searched for a Wildcat receiver and couldn't find one, so he decided to take off. The sophomore quarterback got to the three-yard line and pulled his best Superman impression. He leaped over three Husky defenders, one of which clipped his legs, and did a complete flip into the endzone with four seconds left and kept Arizona unbeaten in their eventual 12-1 season.
That night I chose to stay home (or maybe I just couldn't find a date) from my very first high school homecoming dance. I sat at home by myself and witnessed one of the greatest moments in Wildcat history with my eyes glued to the tube.
It's too bad this weekend's Arizona football game won't be on TV because of the poor records of both the Huskies and the Wildcats. Instead I'll have to listen to Brian Jeffries on the radio in what should be an exciting contest, if history is any indication.
The 31-28 Arizona win that featured the "The Leap by the Lake" has spawned five consecutive memorable games between the two schools. In that time, the Huskies and Wildcats have been separated by a total of 26 points, a meager 4.3 points per game average. The last four contests have featured come-from-behind wins (three by UW, one by UA).
Some might say because tomorrow's 1:30 p.m. contest features two 1-7 teams with no conference wins between them, it could appear to be too crappy a game to pay any attention to, but the recent history between these two schools indicates it will should be a memorable one.
Nov. 8, 2003:
Wildcats 27, Huskies 22
Mike Bell's 222-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Huskies snapped Arizona's school record eight-game Pacific 10 Conference losing streak and a 13-game skid to conference opponents at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats outscored Washington 14-8 in the game's fourth quarter and provoked the homecoming crowd to rush the field. Arizona held off a late surge by the Huskies, who had posted comeback victories over the Cats the previous three years.
Oct. 12, 2002:
Huskies 32, Wildcats 28
With just over two minutes to go, Washington's Cody Pickett found Reggie Williams on an 80-yard slant and kept the 3-1 Wildcats from beating the No. 22 Huskies. UA quarterback Jason Johnson set two school passing records for completions (29) and yardage (443) in the loss. This sent Arizona into a tailspin. The team lost five of their last six games and are just 4-22 as a program since then, with one of those wins being last year's homecoming victory.
Oct. 20, 2001:
Huskies 31, Wildcats 28
Again Pickett dashed the Wildcats' hopes. With just 13 seconds left in the game and Washington trailing 28-24, Pickett scampered in from three yards out and handed Arizona its fourth consecutive loss. Trailing much of the game, the Wildcats built a 28-17 lead on running back Clarence Farmer's 16-yard rushing score with just over five minutes left in the contest. Washington kicked a field goal 70 seconds later to trim the lead and later passed the Wildcats on Pickett's run.
Nov. 4, 2000:
Huskies 35, Wildcats 32
Another Washington quarterback scored a touchdown in the game's final two minutes to best the Wildcats. Marques Tuiasosopo ran the ball in from two yards out to give the then-No. 8 Huskies the win. Arizona led Washington 25-10 in the third quarter, but dropped their third consecutive game of the season. In 2000, the Wildcats began the season 5-1, but lost three straight games, including this one to Washington, by a total of 10 points and finished the year 5-6 in Dick Tomey's last season in Tucson.
Nov. 6, 1999:
Huskies 33, Wildcats 25
Again the Wildcats had opportunities to beat the Huskies in the fourth quarter, but could never overtake them. With less than five minutes to play, Arizona trailed just 19-17, but Washington added to their lead and two missed Wildcat field goals in the second half doomed Arizona.
With the "Leap by the Lake" added to these games, the last six contests could have all made the ESPN Classic programming lineup.
It's too bad the UA/UW game this year won't be on TV. Say the Wildcats do end up knocking off the Huskies for head coach Mike Stoops' first Pac-10 win. When someone asks where you were and when it happened, the story's going to have to start with, "I was listening to the radio ..."
-Charles Renning is a education senior. He can be reached at email@example.com.