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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Idaho Vandalized by Arizona

    UA runningback Nic Grigsby powers through a tackle by an Idaho defender in a 70-0 Wildcat victory over the Vandals at Arizona Stadium Saturday night. Grigsby had 169 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, all in the first half of play.
    UA runningback Nic Grigsby powers through a tackle by an Idaho defender in a 70-0 Wildcat victory over the Vandals at Arizona Stadium Saturday night. Grigsby had 169 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns, all in the first half of play.

    Arizona waited a little longer than it expected to open up the season against Idaho due to a 64-minute lightning delay, but the Vandals may have been better off if Mother Nature didn’t allow the game to kick off.

    The Wildcats scored a school-record 49 first-half points en route to a 70-0 win over Idaho at Arizona Stadium Saturday night. The 70-point margin of victory was the largest of the day, ahead of No. 22 Penn State’s 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina and No. 4 Oklahoma’s 57-2 victory of Chattanooga, and the most points scored since a 74-0 effort against UTEP in 1921.

    “”It was abysmal tonight. I was extremely disappointed that it came out that way,”” said Idaho head coach Robb Akey. “”Arizona played great and we played very poor and that’s a bad combination. That’s why the scoreboard read that way when it was over.””

    Running back Nic Grigsby set the tone early for Arizona in the first half as he amassed 169 yards on 19 carries – including a 41- and 55-yard run – and two scores, matching his touchdown total from last season. Quarterback Willie Tuitama also had an efficient first half as he connected on 17 of his 21 attempts for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Tuitama passed Tom Tunnicliffe – who’s held the record since 1983 – as Arizona’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns as Tuitama’s career total now stands at 47.

    “”Of course it is nice, but I would rather have victories,”” said Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama about breaking the touchdown record. “”W’s, W’s, W’s. That’s what I care about.””

    An unusual play at the start of the second quarter could have summed up the game best. Wide receiver Mike Thomas muffed a punt only for cornerback Marquis Hundley to scoop the ball up and scamper 87-yards for a touchdown. The score put the Wildcats on top 28-0 with just less than 17 minutes gone in the game and effectively ended the competitive portion of the contest in front of the announced crowd of 47,511.

    “”We really did a pretty good job. I thought our first group was pretty sharp,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”The thing I was really excited about is that we didn’t turn the football over.””

    Arizona also had a good showing defensively as it held an Idaho offense which returned all 11 starters to just 76 yards in the first half. The Wildcats forced five turnovers as safeties Nate Ness and Joe Perkins had one interception, cornerback Trevin Wade picked off two passes and linebacker Apaiata Tuihalamaka recovered a fumbler late in the game. Idaho was also 0-6 on third-down conversions in the first half and 1-for-12 for the game.

    The rout gave Arizona a chance to get some of its younger players some much needed experience. True freshman running back Keola Antolin scored the Wildcats’ sixth touchdown of the game, junior college transfer Nick Booth snagged a second-half touchdown reception and running back Chris Gronkowski grabbed his first career touchdown catch, a 12-yarder, in his first ever game in an Arizona uniform.

    True freshman Matt Scott saw the field in the second half going 6-for-10 for 77 yards and one touchdown toss, to Booth, and ran eight times for 54 yards and another score. Overall, Stoops said nearly everyone who wasn’t redshirting saw the field against the Vandals and he “”couldn’t count all”” of the players who got their first playing time as at least eight freshman saw some sort of action.

    Despite the lopsided outcome, Arizona didn’t execute as well as it could have and will have plenty to focus on for next week’s home game against Toledo. Arizona fumbled three times, committed six penalties for 60 yards, only sent out 10 men for kicking situations two separate times and punter Keenyn Crier had a two-yard punt in the first half. Stoops said the miscues were minimal, and if the team can keep it’s energy level as high as it was for the season opener then Arizona could have similar results next week.

    “”This was as clean a game as I’ve been involved in,”” Stoops said. “”If we can continue to play as a team like that then we have a chance to be a good football team.””

    Checkout the print version of The Arizona Daily Wildcat on Tuesday for additional coverage.

    Late Hits

    Arizona set a school record for points in a quarter with the 35 the Wildcats put on the board in the second period of play. …
    The 70-0 final score was the first Arizona shutout since a 41-0 home win over Illinois in 1996. …
    The 70 points were the third most in UA history.

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