Offseason re-watch party: Fumblerooski helps Arizona upset USC in 1990

Anthony Gimino

The Arizona Wildcats were 15-point underdogs and coming off a 35-21 loss at a woeful Oregon State team -- it was the Beavers' only win of the season -- when it traveled to mighty USC in 1990.

It was October 20, and the Wildcats were 4-2 after being knocked out of the AP rankings (they had been No. 21) after the loss in Corvallis. USC was 5-1, ranked 15th, and featured a sophomore quarterback everyone was talking about -- Todd Marinovich.

The game ended up being a doozy -- and the full telecast from Prime Ticket, with Tom Kelly and USC Heisman winner Mike Garrett on the call is available on YouTube:

Arizona won that day 35-26, overcoming an early 10-0 deficit and posting only its second victory ever over the Trojans at that point.

Lots of great storylines, including Dick Tomey vs. Larry Smith as head coaches and a 48-yard touchdown pass from George Malauulu to Michael Bates in the second quarter (starting at the 53:45 mark of the video), with Bates ripping away from a defender to get across the goal line.

But it was UA's tag-team quarterback Ron Veal who came in at the start of the second half and rallied the Wildcats to four touchdown drives. He ran for three scores, including a 7-yarder for a 35-20 lead in the fourth quarter.

The highlight of the game was a fumblerooski play in the third quarter.

Veal dropped the snap on the ground behind center Paul Tofflemire and faked on option play to the left. Left guard Rick Warren scooped up the ball amid the traffic and took off down the right side for a 28-yard gain to the USC 3. The play begins at the 2:05:30 of the video. Garrett, even after watching the replay, was fooled by what happened on the play.

“It’s as old as the hills,” UA coach Dick Tomey said of the fumblerooski in the L.A. Times, “but you’ve got to have the guts to use it.”

It was the third time that season that the Wildcats used that play, which was outlawed by the NCAA after the 1992 season. Warren scored on a touchdown on a fumblerooski in a 28-16 upset of No. 11 Illinois (coached by John Mackovic) in the season-opener.

“It’s called 13 fumblerooski,” Warren said in the L.A. Times, talking about the play against USC. “Thirteen is our option play left. On the 13 fumblerooski, everybody else goes left and I go right.

“It worked tonight and against Illinois. I don’t think Cal knew what was happening, either, but some of their guys didn’t chase our quarterback, so I just fell on the ball.”

Another star of the game: Cornerback Darryll Lewis, the 1990 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back. He intercepted Marinovich twice and set up two TDs with punt returns.

UA-USC snip

Fun fact: Arizona completed six passes and won. The Cats ran for 286 yards.

Another fun fact: The person assigned to be the sideline cord-carrier for Tomey's headphones is Mark Harlan, currently the athletic director at Utah. You can see Harlan, hat on backward, when the camera cuts to the UA sideline.

Enjoy the rewatch.

Previous rewatch: Arizona shuts out Miami in 1994 Fiesta Bowl

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