A freshman field goal kicker with his mind on bass fishing and a senior running back preoccupied with thoughts of his recently deceased grandmother were the primary actors in a Holiday Bowl that had overtones of tragicomedy.
Kendall Trainor, who relaxed by pretending he was on a quiet pond reeling in bass, kicked a 37-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to give Arkansas an 18-17 win over Arizona State before an announced crowd of 42,324 here Sunday night.
Trainor's kick, which came after Arizona State called time out in an attempt to rattle him, followed a 61-yard drive, the keynote of which was a 20-yard pass from quarterback Ron Calcagni to halfback Bobby Joe Edmonds.
"I felt the pressure," said Trainor, a backup quarterback and aspiring leftfielder who became the Arkansas placekicker at midseason. "It relaxed me to think about landing a big hog bass. Then I said a little prayer and kicked it."
It was a vastly different sort of evening for Edmonds, who had missed several days of bowl preparation after his grandmother was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
"I think he dug deep and pulled out a little extra," said Arkansas Coach Ken Hatfield. "His mother had died in a similar accident eight years ago."
Edmonds, who made seven catches for 93 yards and rushed seven times for 43 yards, scored on a 17-yard run with 9:37 to play. Calcagni ran for two extra points to put the Razorbacks ahead, 15-14.
Arizona State rallied to assume a 17-15 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Kent Bostrom, bringing about the dramatic conclusion.
"This is the best game I've ever had," Edmonds said. "I had a little extra determination tonight.
"Any individual who cared for a loved one who passed away would dedicate the game to that person. When she died Thursday before last, it took the spunk out of my football career for awhile, but when the lights came on tonight, I knew I was ready to play."
Arizona State Coach John Cooper, who had predicted this would be one of the more exciting games of the bowl season, saw his team make a last-second stab at victory.
Quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst, who completed 14 of 27 passes for 167 yards, narrowly missed on a low throw to flanker Paul Day at the Arkansas 22. Bostrom then attempted a 59-yard field goal, which was far short.
"We ended the year just like we began it, by dropping too many passes," Cooper said. "When you throw the ball to maintain possession the way we do, you've got to catch everything close to you.
"The thing that will stick with me was that last one. We'd have had a chipshot field goal to win the game if we hold that last pass."
Instead, the Sun Devils were beaten by an inexperienced kicker who emulates dropback passers for the benefit of the Arkansas defense in practice. Hatfield said he was afraid Trainor might get hurt in practice as the Razorback defense honed its rush.
"I was very proud of my defense," Hatfield said. "Arizona State did not score a rushing touchdown on us (an area in which the Hogs had exceled.)"
The Sun Devils took a 3-0 lead on a booming 47-yard field goal by Bostrom.
Arkansas, on the strength of a 16-play, 80-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes, wrested the lead away late in the first period.
Derrick Thomas gave the Hogs a 6-3 advantage on a nine-yard run to polish off the drive.
After Arizona State marched 66 yards to the five, Arkansas preserved its record of having allowed just two rushing touchdowns all year. The Sun Devils were forced to settle for another Bostrom field goal, this one from 22 yards, making it 7-6 midway through the second quarter.
The Sun Devils had a first down at the four, but were turned back in three attempts by the Arkansas defense.
Arizona State reclaimed the lead after stopping the Razorbacks on a fourth and one near midfield. The Sun Devils then covered 52 yards in seven plays, with Van Raaphorst passing 16 yards to Aaron Cox for the touchdown.
The Sun Devils tacked on a two-point conversion as Van Raaphorst hit Vince Amoia to produce a 14-7 halftime lead.
After a scoreless third quarter, Arkansas staged its second long drive, this one covering 84 yards in 11 plays.
A 24-yard pass from Calcagni to Edmonds was the key play. Edmonds swept right and went 17 yards for the score.
The Razorbacks then called timeout to set up a two-point try. Calcagni, electing to keep, made the right choice, scoring to put Arkansas ahead, 15-14, with 9:37 remaining.
"We wanted to put the pressure on them," Hatfield said. "If we didn't make it, we still had nine minutes to get the ball and score again. If we went for one point and got it, it's no big deal to get a tie in a bowl game."
Van Raaphorst then went to work on the Arkansas defense. After softening the Razorbacks with four runs, he went to Jeff Gallimore for 11 yards, and then connected with Cox for a 30-yard gain to the Arkansas 14.
Again the Razorback rushing defense repulsed the Sun Devils, forcing a 28-yard field goal by Bostrom. Thus, with 5:23 to play, Arizona State had recaptured the lead, 17-15.
"It was everything you could ask for in a bowl game," Cooper said. "The only thing we could have done better is catch that last pass and kick the field goal."
Holiday Bowl Winners
1978--Navy 23, BYU 16
1979--Indiana 38, BYU 37
1980--BYU 46, SMU 45
1981--BYU 38, Wash. St. 36
1982--Ohio St. 47, BYU 17
1983--BYU 21, Missouri 17
1984--BYU 24, Michigan 17
1985--Arkansas 18, Ariz. St. 17