Young baseball players frequently dream of a situation in which they come up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and their team trailing by three.
The football equivalent here might be a Hail Mary attempt that comes with time expiring and a club trailing by less than a touchdown.
Austin Hill faced that scenario on Saturday, though he didn't exactly daydream about it as a child.
"I never envisioned it," he laughed. "I always like to win comfortably."
Well, Saturday night's furious finish was anything but comfortable. Arizona trailed Cal 45-43 with four seconds left. From the Bears' 47-yard line, a field goal would have been a 64-yard try (exactly the NFL record), so that was out of question. The Wildcats were left with only one option, so coach Rich Rodriguez turned to divine intervention.
Well, not really -- but it turns out that the Arizona coaching staff's hand signal for "Hail Mary" happened to involve clasping the hands together in prayer fashion.
"That was the signal for this particular game," Hill said. "But they could have made up any signal, and I would have known what to run."
That would be a sprint straight to the back right corner of the end zone.
At the snap, Cal only rushed three linemen, leaving Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon with plenty of time to wait for his receivers to set up shop in the promised land.
Solomon's 73rd and final pass of the night was also its most majestic, a soaring 50-plus yard lob that might have brought down rain had the game not been played in the cloudless desert.
Hill made it to the ball's landing spot.
"Halfway, and then three-quarters of way [into the throw's flight], I knew the ball was coming to me," Hill said. "I was just hoping no one bumped into me, or hit my elbow, or jumped on top of me so I could secure the catch."
Though bodies jumped, pads crashed, and players fell in one chaotic end zone instant, none of the above happened. Hill secured the ball. Arizona Stadium entered a state of delirium. A 36-point fourth quarter had fueled a sensational comeback victory.
"Don't ever go home early," a beaming Rodriguez told a TV camera afterward.
Hill's grand finale is our Pac-12 play of the week poll winner. It won in a landslide.
On Monday, the "Hill Mary" still had Arizona buzzing as Hill went to class in Tucson. Fellow students offered their congratulations. Campus was energized by a moment the Wildcats won't soon forget.
And Hill may or may not still be holding that game-winning football, which he continued to clutch as he jogged off in Saturday night’s mayhem.