The Arizona Wildcats displayed a nine-lives-like quality in beating rival Arizona State, 21-17, in a Pacific 10 game Saturday night.
Art Greathouse scored on a one-yard dive with 3:22 remaining to give the Wildcats a 21-17 lead, and Bobby Roland's interception of a pass by Paul Justin at the Arizona four with 30 seconds left preserved the victory.
Arizona has a nine-game unbeaten streak over Arizona State, going 8-0-1 since 1981. The Wildcats lead the series, 37-26-1.
It appeared that the Sun Devils' frustration would end after Mike Richey's 43-yard field goal late in the third quarter put them ahead, 17-14. A fumble by Arizona quarterback George Malauulu, recovered by ASU's Bryan Hooks at the Arizona 29, set up the field goal.
But Arizona linebacker Jimmy Hopkins forced and recovered a fumble by Sun Devil tailback Leonard Russell at the Arizona State 47 with 8:58 left, leading to Greathouse's go-ahead score.
Arizona State, aided by 10 penalties that cost Arizona 93 yards, maintained good field position throughout, despite its inability to run the ball against the Wildcats. Arizona held the Sun Devils to 27 yards in 31 carries.
"We had an attitude that we're gonna win," said Greathouse, who rushed 17 times for 69 yards despite aggravating a pulled hamstring before the game. "They're wondering 'How are we gonna lose it?' "
After the game, Arizona, which finished the regular season 7-4 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-10, accepted an invitation to play Syracuse on Christmas Day in the Aloha Bowl.
Arizona State (4-6, 2-5) finishes the season against Houston next weekend in Tokyo.
Roland's interception came after Justin had driven the Sun Devils 40 yards to the Arizona 24 with 42 seconds left. On a first-down play, Eric Guliford got behind Roland in the Arizona end zone, but the safety leaped to snare the ball at the four.
"We were in a zone coverage and I was hanging back, just waiting for the receiver to come to me. All I had to do was catch it over my shoulder."
Guliford said, "I thought I had gotten by him, but he just kind of snuck back underneath."
Guliford said congratulating Arizona after the game was difficult, "but we are going to be friends after the game and just have to wait for next year. We came out and spilled our guts today."
Arizona linebacker Kevin Singleton, who because of leukemia was granted an extra year of eligibility and never lost to the Sun Devils in six games, agreed.
"This one was different. We really fought and they really fought and they should be proud even in defeat," Singleton said.