San Diego, Calif., -- Kelvin Eafon?s one-yard touchdown with six minutes remaining lifted fifth-ranked Arizona to a 23-20 victory over No. 14 Nebraska in the 1998 Culligan Holiday Bowl, ending Nebraska?s four-game bowl winning streak.
In a wild fourth quarter that saw three lead changes, the Huskers had rallied from a 16-13 deficit as redshirt freshman Eric Crouch connected with tight end Tracey Wistrom on a four-yard touchdown to give the Huskers a 16-13 lead with 10:55 remaining. Crouch, who finished with 193 yards passing, was four-of-five passing in the drive for 69 of NU?s 88 yards, while Wistrom caught three passes for 41 yards.
Arizona, which finished fourth in the final AP poll with a 12-1 record, came right back on its next possession, driving 68 yards on nine plays, capped by Eafon?s TD run. UA quarterback Keith Smith, who earned offensive player of the game honors, kept the Wildcats? drive alive, rushing for a pair of first downs before Eafon?s score gave the Wildcats the lead. Nebraska had a final opportunity to regain the lead, driving to the UA 46-yard line before Chris McAlister?s second interception of the game sealed the win for Arizona.
Trailing 9-0, the Husker defense forced a pair of Wildcat turnovers as Nebraska score 13 points in the final five minutes of the first half and took a 13-9 lead into the lockerroom. Loran Kaiser?s fumble recovery set up a Kris Brown 25-yard field goal to cut the UA lead to 9-3. On the Huskers? next possession, Crouch found wingback Shevin Wiggins for a 44-yard touchdown to give the Huskers? their first lead of the game at 10-9. On the ensuing kickoff, Billy Legate forced a Wildcat fumble, leading to Brown?s second field goal of the game to give Nebraska a 13-9 lead at the break.
The loss overshadowed an outstanding defensive performance by rush end Mike Rucker, who had seven tackles, including six solos, four tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries to earn defensive MVP honors. All-America cornerback Ralph Brown tied a school and NCAA bowl record with three pass breakups.