Arizona Downs BYU For 2008 Las Vegas Bowl Title
Wildcats Win First Bowl Game
Since 1998 With Victory Over Cougars
LAS VEGAS - Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in leading his team to its first bowl-game victory in a decade as the Wildcats rallied to defeat BYU 31-21 in the 17th edition of the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl on December 20.
Starring before a sold-out crowd of 40,047 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium, the senior signal caller won most valuable player honors after passing for 325 yards. He threw a 37-yard score to Delashaun Dean in the third quarter and then a 24-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski just a few minutes later as Arizona overcame a 14-10 BYU lead in the second half.
The Wildcats finished the season at 8-5 after playing in their first bowl game since the 1998 Holiday Bowl.
BYU, which missed all three of its field-goal attempts, turned the ball over three times. Quarterback Max Hall lost two fumbles and threw an interception as the Cougars, who were making their fourth straight appearance in the game, finished 10-3 overall.
2008 PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL NOTES
The Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl sold out for the fourth consecutive season and the crowd of 40,047 represented the fourth-biggest in the event's history and the seventh-largest in Sam Boyd Stadium history.
Arizona appeared in its first Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and won its first bowl game overall since 1998. The Wildcats' victory improved the Pac-10's record in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl to 5-4 overall.
Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama was named the winner of the 2008 Rossi T. Ralenkotter Most Valuable Player Award and trophy. The senior completed 24-35 pass attempts for 325 and two touchdowns while rushing for 10 net yards and a six-yard score.
Tuitama's pass to WR Terrell Turner that went for 71 yards in the first quarter tied for the second-longest pass play in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history (Mike Maxwell to Alex Van Dyke of Nevada vs. Toledo in 1995).
Tuitama's 325 yards was the fifth?best passing total in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history and the best ever by a Pac-10 quarterback, besting Oregon State's Derek Anderson's 322 in 2003.
Tuitama's 24 completions were the most ever for a Pac-10 signal caller in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl.
BYU quarterback Max Hall's 328 yards passing were the fourth-most in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history
Hall's 30 completions marked the second-most in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history behind 35 by BYU's John Beck in 2005. Hall's 46 attempts tied for the third-most in event history.
The 653 combined passing yards by BYU (328) and Arizona (324) were the most for two teams in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history.
BYU saw its two-game Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl winning streak snapped. The Cougars, who have played in the game more than any other team, fell to 2-2 all-time. BYU also fell to 10-3 all-time in games played at Sam Boyd Stadium, which includes games vs. UNLV and in WAC championship games.
With BYU's loss, the Mountain West Conference's record in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl fell to 6-4 all-time.
BYU WR Austin Collie's 11 receptions were the third-most by a player in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history. Collie had 119 yards while teammate Michael Reed had 117 on nine catches. It marked the third time in bowl history that one team had two 100-yard receivers (UNLV in 1994 and Wyoming in 2004). Counting Terrell Turner's 111 yards on four grabs for Arizona, it marked the second time in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history that a game featured three 100-yard receivers (1994: UNLV two and Central Michigan one).
Kellen Fowler had 15 total tackles for BYU and Xavier Kelley had the same amount for Arizona. Those totals both tied for the second-most by a player in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history (20 by Troy Polamalu of USC in 2001).