Albuquerque, NM – Matt Scott hit Tyler Slavin for a 2-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left to lift Arizona to a 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Wildcats trailed 48-35 with 1:48 to go, but Scott quickly led Arizona on a touchdown drive in just over a minute to pull his team within six points. After the Wolf Pack were flagged for pass interference, Scott found Austin Hill in the end zone for a 2-yard score with 42 seconds remaining.
Arizona then recovered a fumble on the ensuing onside kick, and Scott found Garic Wharton running down the seam for a 28-yard gain before connecting with Hill down the right sideline for a 21-yard pickup to put the ball at the Nevada 2-yard line with 22 seconds to play.
Scott then dropped back and hit Slavin on a slant route in the end zone with 19 ticks showing to tie it up, and John Bonano's extra point gave the Wildcats the decisive advantage.
Cody Fajardo was intercepted on Nevada's first play of the ensuing touch and Arizona took a knee to run off the remaining seconds.
"The guys never quit," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "They played every play. You've got to give them credit. That's a good football team, but we hung in there just enough to win it."
Scott was 28-of-47 passing for 382 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while also rushing for a score. Ka'Deem Carey carried the ball 28 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Hill caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats (8-5), who got their first bowl win since beating then-No. 16 BYU 31-28 in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl.
Fajardo was 22-of-31 passing for 256 yards, three touchdowns and two picks and also picked up 140 yards rushing and a score. Stefphon Jefferson carried the ball 34 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while Richy Turner caught six passes for 96 yards and a score for Nevada (7-6), which dropped five of its last six games to conclude the season.
"I thought offensively we played well. We did what we had to do to win," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "You score 48, you should win the game."
Zach Sudfeld, who was questionable for the game because of an illness, caught a pair of first quarter touchdowns for the Wolf Pack in the setback.
Fajardo's 33-yard touchdown pass to Turner gave the Wolf Pack a 38-28 lead early in the third quarter, and following Bryson Keeton's interception of Scott, Nevada went 80 yards in 15 plays and increased its lead on Fajardo's 1- yard scoring run with 1:33 left in the period.
The Wildcats, though, did not back down and pulled within 10 after Scott connected with Hill for a 63-yard touchdown.
Allen Hardison hit a 25-yard field goal with 1:48 left to give the Wolf Pack a 48-35 lead prior to the Wildcats' improbable comeback.
Nevada scored the first 21 points of the game. First, Jefferson broke a 16- yard touchdown run on the opening drive. Fajardo then threw a pair of touchdown passes to Sudfeld just 14 seconds apart in the first quarter.
Sudfeld's first touchdown reception, a 17-yard strike, capped an 8-play, 35- yard trek.
The Wildcats' Jared Baker fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and the Wolf Pack took over at the Arizona 28. Fajardo hit his 6-foot-7 receiver in stride on the next play for a 14-0 lead.
The Wildcats, though, answered back with a touchdown as Carey broke off a 21-yard run. Scott picked up four yards on 4th-and-3 on the previous play to set up Carey's score.
Fajardo's pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by Shaquille Richardson to set up a 9-play, 71-yard march capped off with Scott's 1-yard touchdown run to pull Arizona within 21-14 less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Nevada turned it over once again on its next touch when Jefferson fumbled in Arizona territory. The Wildcats needed eight plays to find the end zone, with Carey punching it in from one yard out to knot it up at 21-21.
Jefferson's 14-yard touchdown gave Nevada a 28-21 lead with just under six minutes to go in the first half, but Carey bulled his way into the end zone from nine yards out to tie things up once again.
Hardison's 27-yard field goal at the end of the half gave the Wolfpack a 31-28 lead at the break.
Rodriguez is now 3-4 all-time in bowl games ... Nevada outgained Arizona, 664-570, in total yards ... The Wolf Pack ran 25 more plays than Arizona (111-86) ... Nevada was penalized 16 times for 154 yards.