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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Grigsby runs wild in win

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Northern Arizona University in an NCAA mens football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 5, 2009. Arizona up 21-10 at the half.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Northern Arizona University in an NCAA men’s football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 5, 2009. Arizona up 21-10 at the half.

The Arizona football team’s offensive line deserved a lot of credit Saturday night. With a defense playing lethargically and an air attack that struggled to connect on the long ball, it was up to the Wildcats’ running game to lift the team over a pesky Northern Arizona (0-1) squad.

The offensive line delivered and the man who would take the credit, running back Nic Grigsby, finished the night with a career-high 207 yards on 15 carries, along with a pair of touchdowns en route to a 34-17 Arizona (2-0) win.

“”(Grigsby’s) a guy with a lot of experience and he’s really been our go-to guy right now,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”He’s done a good job of making plays and getting us to where we need to be offensively.””

Grigsby began his career night with a pair of touchdown runs of 25 and 30 yards, respectively, capping the first two Arizona drives. With just six carries, the junior had already amassed 80 of the team’s 101 rushing yards at that point in the game.

The biggest highlight of Grigsby’s night came five minutes into the third quarter with Arizona on its own 5-yard line. Hurrying to beat the play clock, quarterback Matt Scott rushed his team to the line while Grigsby — unaware of the desperation of the moment — casually walked into position. Seconds later the ball was snapped and Grigsby’s instincts took over. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back juked his way through a jumble of NAU defenders and found himself in a footrace to the end zone with Lumberjacks cornerback Daivon Dumas. Grigsby was caught at the 1-yard line but the 94-yard run — the second longest in Arizona history behind Trung Canidate’s 96-yarder in 1997 — set up Arizona’s fourth touchdown of the night and put the contest virtually out of reach for the Lumberjacks.

“”The coaches just give me the ball and I try to make a play,”” Grigsby said. “”Sometimes I make a play and other times I don’t. But every time I get the ball, I’m trying to make a big play and maybe break one open.””

Before Grigsby’s game-breaking run, NAU had been keeping things tight. Throughout the first half, the Lumberjacks refused to go away and consistently put points on the board.

After Arizona’s second touchdown of the game, NAU quarterback Michael Herrick led his team on a methodical 14-play, 79-yard scoring drive that ate up 6:17 of the clock and brought the Lumberjacks within four.

Although the Wildcats would add one more touchdown before halftime, the feel within the stadium going into the break was that NAU was still very much in contention.

“”I’m just not very pleased with (the defense) overall,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “”I’m not taking anything away from (NAU) because they did a nice job of executing their offensive plays, I’m just very disappointed with our focus and our energy level. We’ve talked about consistency and I just thought we took a step back (on Saturday).””

Also showing some vulnerability Saturday night was Scott, who, despite throwing 14 completions on 20 attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown, failed to connect on a pass further than 23 yards. The sophomore also got into trouble midway through the fourth quarter when he found NAU safety Matt Steinbach instead of an Arizona receiver for a turnover which quickly became a late score for the Lumberjacks.

Midway through the third quarter, sophomore backup quarterback Nick Foles saw his first game action and showed off his arm with two throws downfield on his first two plays.

Through the two series the sophomore saw, he completed six of eight passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.

“”I thought Nick (Foles) really represented himself in a positive way,”” said head coach Mike Stoops. “”You can see he can throw the ball, and I thought his poise and his ability to get us in the right place was really good.

“”Both quarterbacks played well, and despite a few mistakes here or there, I was very pleased with both of them.””

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