COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Oregon Swarms Bruschi, Arizona, 17-13 : Pacific 10: Graziani’s late touchdown pass is game-winner in victory over the Wildcats.
Tony Graziani had an off day against Arizona’s swarming defense. Then again, the Desert Swarm defense had an off day against him.
Graziani had time to throw the winning touchdown pass and wasn’t sacked, not even when confronted by defensive end Tedy Bruschi, who still needs three to set an NCAA career record.
“He’s a great player and such a great guy,” Graziani said Saturday after directing the 17th-ranked Ducks to a 17-13 victory. “I wouldn’t have been happy to see him get it against me, but I’d like to see him get the all-time record, because he deserves it.”
The Ducks, last year’s Rose Bowl representative from the Pacific 10, fought their way into contention for another major bowl bid with their seventh consecutive road victory and fifth this season in a stadium in which they hadn’t won since 1983.
First-year Coach Mike Bellotti, who moved up from offensive coordinator after Rich Brooks left to coach the St. Louis Rams, now is 8-2 and in position to surpass Brooks’ final-season 9-4.
“We have maintained the tradition of finding a way to win,” Bellotti said. “I think it’s a trust system that this group of kids is going to find a way to win the game. It blossomed last year, and I would say it’s probably been magnified or enlarged this year.”
Graziani finished 10 for 26 for 147 yards, but his five-yard pass to Aaron Jelks with 6:06 left in the third quarter turned out to be the game-winner. It capped an 83-yard drive and gave Oregon, 5-2 in the Pacific 10, a 17-13 lead.
Arizona (5-5, 3-4) had taken a 10-0 lead, but Ricky Whittle’s one-yard touchdown run with 12:03 left in the second quarter and Joshua Smith’s 19-yard field goal with 3:32 left brought Oregon into a tie by halftime.
The Wildcats had taken the lead on Gary Taylor’s one-yard scoring run with 7:41 left in the first quarter and Jon Prasuhn’s 50-yard field goal four minutes later.
Oregon’s offensive line not only held the Wildcats without a sack for the first time all season but opened holes that allowed the Ducks to run for 195 yards behind Whittle, who had 107 in 28 carries