Making his first start for No. 11 Illinois, sophomore Jason Verduzco finished with 25 completions in 38 attempts for 255 yards and a touchdown but it was not enough as Arizona emerged victorious 28-16 at Arizona Stadium. Verduzco, replacing No. 1 NFL draft pick Jeff George, was intercepted twice, and though he had Illinois close to scoring three times in the second half, the Illini achieved only a pair of Doug Higgins field goals.
Note: Oklahoma State true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt makes his first collegiate road start tonight against the Wildcats.
Trailing 21-13, Illinois had the ball at the Arizona 3, but ended up with Higgins kicking a 33-yarder to make it 21-16. Arizona drove the ball 74 yards, using all but 43 seconds before Art Greathouse lunged in from the 1 to secure the victory. Verduzco`s first series was a three-and-out experience, forcing Forry Wells to try his first collegiate punt. Todd Burden stormed through to block the punt and Bobby Roland recovered at the Illini 11. Fullback Mike Streidnig gained 8 yards on the first play, and tailback Michael Bates cracked over from the 3 on second down. Arizona led 7-0 and did not trail thereafter.
Other September 8 happenings of note
— Arizona beats Colorado State 31-0 at Fort Collins, Colo., in the debut of coach Jim Young in 1973.
— The Wildcats lost last season at No. 9 Oklahoma State 37-14 in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys fulfill the home-and-home arrangement tonight at Arizona Stadium.
— Today is former UA long snapper Steve Justice’s birthday. Justice is the long snapper who snapped the ball perfectly to holder Kevin Ward when Max Zendejas kicked his legendary game-winning 48-yard field goal at Notre Dame in 1982.
— It is also the 25th birthday of former UA point guard Nic Wise, who is celebrating his special day in Italy where he is playing professionally.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner