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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Final: Arizona 35, Nevada 28

    Tyler Baker

    Arizona freshman wide receiver Tyrell Johnson (2) catches the ball before scoring a touchdown during the 2nd quarter of Arizona vs Nevada football game at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. Arizona leads 21- 13 at halftime.

    On Saturday night at home, Arizona football collected its third straight start despite a late rally by Nevada.

    The Wildcats have opened each year of head coach Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona three nonconference wins. Rodriguez is now 11-0 against non-Pac-12 Conference teams as the UA’s coach.

    Rodriguez said he prefers games like Arizona’s opener, a 58-13 win over UNLV, and laughed.

    “We made a couple big stops at the end of the game,” Rodriguez said. “I wish it wouldn’t get to that, because these are hard on the coaches, the coaches’ families and the ADs and their families.”

    With 14:55 left in the game, the Wildcats took a 35-21 lead after a 24-yard touchdown reception by redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cayleb Jones. After forcing a Nevada punt, the Wildcats went on an over four-minute drive and looked to cruising to an easy win.

    However, redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon slid on a nine-yard rush on fourth and 10, and the Wildcats surrendered the ball on downs.

    “I wasn’t too pleased with that — but he wasn’t, either,” Rodriguez said.

    The Wildcats gave up the ball on the Nevada 26-yard line.

    “He was kind of mad, kind of,” Solomon said, laughing. “With situations like that, I just got to go get that yardage.”

    The Wolf Pack (2-1) drove down the field and scored a touchdown on an eight-play drive that only used up about 3:10. Nevada forced a Wildcat punt, but Arizona forced a turnover on downs to secure the win.

    “We just got to go out there and get things done,” UA sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III said.

    Rodriguez said he didn’t think about Nevada reversing the outcome of the 2012 New Mexico Bowl, where the Wildcats beat the Wolf Pack 49-48 with two late touchdowns.

    Nevada senior quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 321 yards on 29-for-39 passing and three touchdowns, but he was held to 14 yards on the ground.

    Rodriguez said Nevada’s offensive success, which got 429 yards and possessed the ball for 35:48, was a combination of things.

    “It could be them having a couple really good wide outs and making big-time catches and a quarterback that’s really accurate,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s a combination of all those things.”

    Arizona countered Nevada with freshman running back Nick Wilson, who ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. A Wildcat has now rushed for over 100 yards in 20 games under Rodriguez, which ties the record for the most since 1996, set by Nebraska in 1999-2000.

    “I think that, honestly no, I couldn’t,” Wilson said when asked if he could have imagined his first three games going any better.

    Arizona produced a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver for the fourth game in a row.
    Jones caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

    “Cayleb, he’s a great player and I’m not just saying that because he’s right here,” Solomon said at the post-game press conference, laughing. “He is a great player, and he’s definitely the guy that you just want on your team, and you just throw the ball up to him and he can make some plays as well.”

    Jones sat out last year after transferring from Texas.

    “He’s going to keep getting better,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes we forget this is really his first year in the system. He did a little bit last year while he sat out, but he is still learning.”

    Solomon threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns on 22-for-26 passing, ran for 60 yards on seven carries but threw the first interception of his college career. Solomon, who is from Las Vegas, had a quarterback rating of 204.8 in his third start.

    Solomon described his performance as “horrible,” however.

    “I made some bad mistakes,” Solomon said.

    Solomon said he agreed that the close wins, like the 26-23 win at UTSA in their second game, will prepare them for Pac-12 play, which starts on Sept. 20 with California.

    “We just got to stay calm and relax and do what we do best,” Solomon said.

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