by Adam Gonzales
Tucson, Ariz. – It has been a roller coaster of a season for redshirt junior kicker Casey Skowron. He started off the season very well as he was 11-of-13 on field goal attempts in the first five games of the season, but then came the USC game.
After an outstanding onside kick by Skowron, he missed a 36-yard field goal to win the game as the Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season, and he was made out to be the scape goat.
Life went on for Skowron and the season sure didn’t come to a stop. Arizona played three more games going 2-1 where the junior was 2-of-4 in field goals, and then came the Washington game this past week.
The game seemed to be over as Washington had the ball with under two minutes to play and the Wildcats only had one timeout, but senior Tra’Mayne Bondurant made one of the plays of the year by stripping the Washington running back and Arizona took over around midfield with about a minute and a half left in the game. All signs were pointing right to Skowron.
After an overturned touchdown call, Skowron got a chance to redeem himself with a 47-yard attempt from the right hash mark. It was a similar situation as he was ‘iced,’ but this time he missed the first attempt. He proceeded to drill the second kick right down the middle of the goal posts giving the Wildcats a 27-26 lead with no time left on the clock, and the celebration was on.
“It was fantastic,” Skowron said. “More importantly we got the win. Everyone on the team played hard for 60 minutes and we never gave up. I was proud of our guys for playing hard all the way to the end and being able to pull out the win. Any time we get a chance to hit a field goal and we make it is a great win. Anytime we win a game, I’m happy whether it’s off of a field goal, whether it’s a blowout or whether it’s off of a last‐minute touchdown. It doesn’t matter how we get the win as long as we get it."
As expected, the reaction was the complete opposite after he made the field goal from the USC game. Nowadays with social media, anybody can be reached, and Skowron felt all the love this time.
“I had like 75 texts, 150 Facebook messages, and I couldn’t scroll far enough to see everything on Twitter,” Skowron said. “It’s definitely better to be loved than hated. It’s weird going on Twitter and Facebook and seeing my face all over the place. It’s something that I’m not used to, but it’s great.”
Skowron used the USC game as a learning experience, and it turned out to be one of the better things that could’ve happened to him. He had experience in being in such a high pressure situation that he knew how to react to it, and the results showed.
"Every time I kick, I think about the USC game, but part of being a great kicker is being able to overcome things that have happened in the past and just go on to the next kick,” Skowron said. “It was just about making that kick. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be ‘iced,’ but I knew it was a possibility.”
Not only did Skowron kick the game-winning field goal, he also scored his first ever touchdown on his first-ever carry. Towards the end of the first half, special teams coach Charlie Ragle called for a fake field goal where long snapper Jose Romero would snap the ball to Skowron and he would have a run/pass option. Not surprisingly, Skowron was excited and had a tough time holding it in.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t give away the fake and I wanted it to look like I was looking at the spot instead of Jose (Romero),” Skowron said. “It was a little tough to find the balance of not giving away the fake and being ready to catch the ball. I was just really excited.”
The ball was snapped, and the former soccer standout took off running towards the end zone. He turned the corner and scored the touchdown as he was being tackled. That play could’ve possibly saved the game for the Wildcats as things were looking bleak for the most part, but Skowron was able to turn things around.
“I wanted to make sure that the guys weren’t wide open, but then I saw the open field so I took off,” Skowron said. “I’ve never even had a carry, let alone a touchdown. It didn’t really feel too different than a field goal because I was excited that we got points on the board. It was a great feeling to be the one to run the ball into the end zone.”
A few days after the game, Skowron was deservedly named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week, which was an incredible honor to him.
“That’s just icing on the cake,” Skowron said. “I was happy that we got the win first off. I couldn’t have done it without all the guys on the offensive line, Drew Riggleman and Jose (Romero).”
Even though he has become very popular on campus, he still remains the humble, down to earth person that he is.
“It’s definitely better to be loved than hated,” Skowron said. “I don’t think anything has changed too much and my daily routine is still the same. I still get out of bed and brush my teeth in the morning.”
Skowron and the Wildcats will play their final road game on Sat., Nov. 22, at Utah. Kickoff has been set for 1:30 p.m. MST and the game will air on ESPN. For continued coverage of Arizona football, follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/ArizonaFootball and on Twitter @ArizonaFBall.