Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arizona Downs Nevada, 35-28

Anu Solomon threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, and Nick Wilson ran for 171 yards and two scores as the Arizona football team ran its record to 3-0 with a 35-28 win over Nevada on Saturday night.

The win moved Arizona to 11-0 against non-conference opponents under head coach Rich Rodriguez.

“It was a hard-fought game, and we were very fortunate to win,” Rodriguez said. “That’s a good football team, and we’ll take it. I felt comfortable that when we had the ball, we could make first downs and change field position. As I told the team in the locker room, we have to get a whole lot better. We have bigger goals, and that really starts this weekend.”

UA racked up 507 yards of total offense, with Solomon adding 60 rushing yards to his total through the air and completing 22-of-26 passes among six different receivers. Cayleb Jones game highs of nine catches and 116 yards, his second-straight 100-yard receiving game, and caught two of Solomon’s three touchdown throws.

“It’s a great feeling,” Jones said. “I’ll enjoy it, but we have a great team coming in next week. We could have been better tonight and we have to get better. That’s our focus right now.”

Wilson posted his third 100-yard rushing game in as many career contests, following up his 174-yard performance last week with 171 on 29 carries on Saturday. His effort gave Arizona a 100-yard rusher in 20-consecutive games, tying the longest streak in college football since 1996. He scored the Wildcats’ first two touchdowns on the night, giving him four on the year.

“Nick plays hard,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a freshman and he’s still learning, but he plays hard. We’ll have to watch the film and see how he blocked up front, but he did some real good things.”

In addition to Jones’ nine receptions, Samajie Grant caught four passes for 50 yards, Nate Phillips had three catches for 40 yards and Tyrell Johnson had two catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Scooby Wright III led all tacklers with a career-high 14 tackles, while Jake Matthews also set a career mark with 10 stops and Jared Tevis added 10 tackles of his own. Matthews and Derrick Turituri each posted a sack on the evening.

Nevada drove to the Arizona three yard line on the game’s opening possession, but the UA defense held the Wolf Pack out of the end zone and forced a field goal to opening the scoring. The Wildcats answered with a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard Wilson run.

Solomon was 5-of-6 for 68 yards on the drive, finding Grant three times for 45 yards, including a 27-yard catch on third down to keep the drive alive.

After a second Nevada field goal, Wilson put up his second touchdown of the night, a 28-yard burst to cap an eight-play, 76-yard drive and put Arizona up by a 14-6 margin. Wilson accounted for 40 total yards on the drive, running for 32 and catching one pass for eight.

Solomon hooked up with Johnson for the latter’s first-career touchdown catch, a 35-yard strike, with 2:08 left in the first half to increase Arizona’s lead to 21-6. The drive, which started after the UA defense forced Nevada into a three-and-out, covered 65 yards in just five plays and 1:12 of game time.

Nevada was able to find the end zone for the first time in the waning seconds of the first half, making the score 21-13 at the intermission.

The Wolf Pack tied the score at 21-21 with 6:03 left in the third quarter, but UA answered with a touchdown of its own the next time it touched the ball to regain a seven-point lead. The scoring play came by way of a 22-yard pass from Solomon to Jones, one play after the duo connected on a third-down pass to keep the drive going.

Solomon and Jones teamed up for another score after the Wildcats forced a Nevada three-and-out, connecting on a 24-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to give UA a 35-21 advantage.

Nevada cut into the deficit with a touchdown with 6:01 left to play, but could draw no closer as UA came up with a key defensive stop late in the game and was able to run out the clock on the strength of Wilson’s legs.

The Wildcats will play in front of their home crowd for the second-straight week on Sat., Sept. 20, opening Pac-12 play against California at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and carried on the Arizona IMG Sports Radio Network.

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