Inaugural Cactus Bowl
December 31, 1989
Stadium: Arizona Stadium
Offensive Player of the Game: Shane Montgomery, North Carolina State
Defensive Player of the Game: Scott Geyer, Arizona
Head Coaches: Dick Tomey, Arizona - Dick Sheridan, North Carolina State
Weather: Clear, 59 Degrees
Television: Turner Broadcasting (WTBS)
Payout Per Team: $500,000
The Pac-10 Conference’s Arizona Wildcats and Atlantic Coast Conference’s North Carolina State Wolfpack clashed in the inaugural Insight (Copper) Bowl on New Year’s Eve, 1989, in front of 37,237 fans on the Wildcats’ home field at Arizona Stadium on a 59-degree evening.
The Wildcats were dominated statistically (310–130 total yards, 222–80 passing yards, 23–8 first downs, 38:06–21:54 time of possession), including a season-low 50 yards rushing, but two unlikely heroes, receiver Olatide Ogunfiditimi and linebacker Scott Geyer, made big plays to overcome the statistical imbalance.
In the first quarter, neither team could sustain drives, but the Wildcats dented the scoreboard first when quarterback Ronald Veal found a double-covered Ogunfiditimi for a 37-yard touchdown pass, his only reception of the game. It was one of only five Wildcat pass completions in the game.
Geyer, the defensive most valuable player, intercepted Wolfpack quarterback Shane Montgomery and raced 85 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
N.C. State fought back behind Montgomery, the offensive most valuable player who finished with 222 yards passing. He capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to fullback Todd Varn to cut Arizona’s advantage to 14–7.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 17–7 on a 34-yard Gary Coston field goal before halftime.
Arizona rode its staunch defense to victory in the nearly-scoreless second half. Wolfpack kicker Damon Hartman’s 43-yard, third-quarter field goal provided the only scoring for either team. Montgomery, however, almost broke the draught and Arizona fans’ hearts when he just missed diving receiver Chris Williams over the middle for the potential tying touchdown with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The game’s leading rushers were Reggie McGill (49 yards) for Arizona and Anthony Barbour (41 yards) for North Carolina State.
The Arizona victory was the first bowl win in Head Coach Dick Tomey’s 13-year head coaching career.
Arizona finished the season 8–4; the Wolfpack closed at 7–5.
North Carolina State
How They Scored
Olatide Ogunfiditimi 37 yard pass from Ronald Veal (Gary Coston kick)
Scott Geyer 85 yard interception return (Gary Coston kick)
Todd Varn 4 yard pass from Shane Montgomery (Damon Hartman kick)
Gary Coston 34 yard field goal
Damon Hartman 43 yard field goal
Anthony Barbour 16-41, Aubrey Shaw 9-26, Todd Varn 7-23, Tyrone Jackson 6-14, Greg Manior 5-6, Al Byrd 1-(-3), Shane Montgomery 5-(-19)
Reggie McGill 14-49, Michael Bates 3-6, Michael Streidnig 2-5, Mario Hampton 5-2, Errol Sapp 3-2, Ronald Veal 10-(-14)
Shane Montgomery 21-46-1-222, Mike Kavulic 0-1-1-0
Ronald Veal 5-15-1-80.
Al Byrd 6-67, Todd Varn 5-25, Todd Harrison 2-43, Mike Kavulic 2-26, Anthony Barbour 2-19, Reggie Lawrence 2-16, Chris Williams 1-13, Bobby Jurgens 1-13
Reggie McGill 2-23, Olatide Ogunfiditimi 1-37, Mario Hampton 1-14, Michael Bates 1-6