Osborne’s Torture Is the Real McCoy


Chuck Osborne said he expects to be haunted this off-season, despite his brilliant performance in Tuesday’s Freedom Bowl game.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound junior from Canyon High had two sacks for Arizona during a defensive battle against Utah.

Osborne, who narrowly missed getting two more sacks, made several key plays and spent most of the evening in quarterback Mike McCoy’s face as Arizona, which lost, 16-13, held the Utes to 75 yards of total offense.


But he will be plagued by Utah’s answered prayer: a five-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to Kevin Dyson on fourth down with 3 minutes 34 seconds remaining.

The winning touchdown came on the heels of Steve McLaughlin’s 20-yard field goal, which gave the Wildcats a 13-7 lead, a safety, which made it 13-9, and a 72-yard return by Utah’s Cal Beck of the free kick that followed the safety.

Had this been the NFL, McCoy would have been ruled “in the grasp” on his touchdown pass.

Osborne was riding McCoy to the turf at the 12 when the Ute quarterback flung the ball blindly toward the end zone and Dyson made a lunging, one-handed catch.

“I didn’t know he got the ball off,” Osborne said. “I thought I sacked him. I saw the crowd cheering. I thought he was down. Then I saw the receiver had the ball. That was devastating.”

Now Osborne blames himself for not making an extraordinary play, for not taking the ball out of McCoy’s hands.

“I was just going for the tackle and not the turnover,” he said. “They emphasize stripping the ball. And I take fault in that. I feel really bad about that. It’s on me, and I’ll never forget this.”


While the Wildcat defense dominated the game, holding the Utes to a net six yards rushing, Osborne had three tackles for a loss and broke up two passes. Osborne, who led Arizona in sacks (13) and tied for the team lead in tackles for losses (18), had deflected a McCoy pass intended for Dyson two plays earlier.

So how would Osborne label this Utah triumph?

Osborne cocked his head, looked at the locker-room ceiling and paused.

“Preposterous,” he said. “It was the most unpredictable game I’ve ever been in.”


Weird to bizarre: The McCoy-to-Dyson pass was weird, but Ontiwaun Carter’s 23-yard touchdown reception for Arizona in the first quarter was bizarre.

It actually could have been ruled an interception and fumble recovery, with the senior running back from Kennedy High stealing the touchdown.

Carter, running a fly pattern, was well covered by Utah cornerback Edwin Garrette. Garrette leaped and snared quarterback Dan White’s underthrown pass, but as Garrette fell backward at the one-yard line--arms stretched above his head, ball in hands--Carter stripped it and trotted across the goal line.

“I just pulled it out and said, ‘This is mine,’ Carter said.

Carter, Arizona’s all-time leading rusher with 3,501 yards, thought the rushing yardage would come easier after that. He was wrong. He struggled for 44 yards in 19 carries.

“(After the touchdown) I was thinking, ‘OK, we got the pass. Now we can open it up a little bit,’ ” he said. “ ‘All we need now is for our offensive line to control the line of scrimmage and it’ll be over.’ But, as you can see, our offensive line struggled.”



No Dice: Blame it on poor blocking. Blame it on dropped passes. But when it mattered most, Arizona’s offense (184 total yards) was just as shackled as Utah’s.

The Wildcats could have put the game away with a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but tight end Tim Thomas and wide receiver Lamar Lovett dropped easy passes in the end zone. The question is, where was Richard Dice?

The 6-3, 215-pound sophomore from Alemany who caught 63 passes for 1,034 yards (the second-highest single-season total in school history) had only one reception in the second half after catching six for 61 yards in the first half.

“The plays were there for me,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I thought this was going to be a big night for me. But they were in (White’s) face the whole night.”

Where was Dice when White was looking for some good hands in the end zone?

“I was open (on the second dropped attempt), but I wasn’t as open as Lamar was.”

Joe Smigiel, Arizona’s 6-5, 285-pound senior tackle from Newbury Park, might have summed it up best.

“You gotta catch the rock,” he said. “We catch the rock, we win.”


A grateful Ute: Utah wide receiver Curtis Marsh (Simi Valley/Moorpark College) wasn’t looking a gift horse in the mouth.


“It was a blessing to win this game,” he said.

The 6-2, 209-pound senior, who had 61 receptions for 851 yards and tied for the Western Athletic Conference lead in touchdown receptions with 11 during the regular season, was held to three receptions for 25 yards.

“(Arizona) forced me to the inside,” said Marsh, who prefers sideline routes. “Really, their defense played all-around good ball. Nothing was working for us. We were either covered, or (McCoy) didn’t have enough time.”

The play before Dyson’s decisive catch, McCoy looked for Marsh, who was well covered, and the quarterback was forced to throw out of the end zone.

Marsh said he had the best seat in the house to watch the reception. He was roving at the back of the end zone behind Dyson and said he might have been able to make the catch himself.