Five hundred fans lined Arizona Stadium's west-side bleachers in the minutes following the Arizona Wildcats' latest can-you-believe-that win on Saturday, eager to meet the team's new hero.
Matt Scott knew the drill.
For two full minutes, the UA quarterback slapped high-fives, low-fives and fist bumps to any fan who asked. At the end of the line, a fan tossed Scott a football. He grabbed a pen from teammate Bug Wright, smiled and signed it.
Scott wrote his name in the UA football annals in Saturday's 44-14 win, putting up 298 yards of total offense in place of the injured Nick Foles. Scott completed 18 of 22 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns and rushed seven times for 65 yards. Thanks to Scott's stewardship of the offense, the 15th-ranked Wildcats (6-1 overall, 3-1 Pac-10) became bowl-eligible for the third consecutive season.
"I think I proved a little bit tonight," Scott said. "Hopefully next week, it'll be even better."
Scott's role beyond Saturday's blowout is unknown. Coach Mike Stoops said Foles, who dislocated his right kneecap a week ago against Washington State, "is close" to returning. That could push Scott back into a backup role. Late Saturday, quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo hinted that Foles will regain the job when he's healthy.
"Nick's still our guy when he's ready to come back, but Mike will make that call," he said.
Even if he never takes another snap for the Wildcats, Scott will be remembered for Saturday's performance.
Of course, he had help.
Tailback Keola Antolin rushed 14 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns, one on a 78-yard dash that put Arizona ahead 24-14 in the second quarter. Nicolas Grigsby added 50 yards on 12 carries and scored twice, and wide receiver Juron Criner caught eight passes for 108 yards.
And Arizona's defense, so bemoaned following a loss to Oregon State two weeks ago, neutralized quarterback Jake Locker. The senior star completed 17 of 29 passes for 183 yards and a score; known for his speed, Locker rushed six times for minus-24 yards. He was sacked four times by an eager UA front.
"We got ahead," Stoops said, "and made it uncomfortable for them to run what they run."
Even Arizona's mistakes were merely blips on a shockingly smooth night.
The UA's first drive ended when fullback Taimi Tutogi fumbled after catching a flare pass in the flat. Washington (3-4, 2-2) then drove the length of the field in four plays, with Locker finding receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 26-yard score.
Arizona dominated from that point on, scoring on six of its next seven possessions. The UA didn't punt until there was 4:29 remaining in the third quarter.
And when Scott struggled, which wasn't often, he was mature enough to make the right decision. The Wildcats were ahead 37-14 in the fourth quarter when Scott fumbled a snap out of the shotgun formation. Thinking quickly, Scott rolled outside the pocket and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Criner.
Stoops said Scott "was outstanding."
"He wasn't skitting or jittery. He was ready to go," Stoops said. "He was focused and calm. He was prepared."
And, perhaps most importantly, Scott was himself. Stoops talked to the quarterback Friday night at the team hotel about playing to his strengths and relaxing.
"He just told me, 'You don't have anything to prove. Just go out there and do what you do,' " Scott said. "It made me a little more comfortable."
On Saturday, it showed on the field. And extended Arizona's improbable run.
Said Stoops: "I thought Matt did a great job of just being Matt Scott tonight."
On Starnet: Watch video highlights from the post-game news conferences at go.azstarnet.com/finley
• What: Arizona at UCLA
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: FSAZ
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM