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 timeout in an attempt to rattle him, followed a 61-yard drive whose keynote 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 left-fielder who became the Arkansas place-kicker 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 preparations 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 then rallied and assumed 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 her. 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 a possible win.
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."
The Sun Devils assumed a 3-0 lead on a booming 47-yard field goal by Bostrom, but Arkansas, on the strength of a 16-play, 80-yard drive, wrested the lead away late in the first period as Derrick Thomas scored on a nine-yard run.
After a 22-yard field goal by Bostrom made it 7-6, the Sun Devils stopped the Razorbacks on a fourth-and-one near midfield and 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 drove 84 yards in 11 plays with Edmonds sweeping right for his 17-yard touchdown. 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.
With 5:23 to play, Bostrom kicked his 28-yard field goal.
"It was everything you could ask for in a bowl game," Cooper said.