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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona defeats Nevada 44-20 behind Wilson’s stellar rushing attack

Courtesy+of+Chase+Sivret

Courtesy of Chase Sivret

The biggest gamble in Reno, Nevada, Saturday night, did not take place on a gambling floor, but rather between the hashes of Mackay Stadium.

Without injured All-American Scooby Wright III, Arizona placed their chips on an explosive offense to compensate for a defense with a growing number of holes.

The big blind paid off as Arizona left Reno with a comfortable 44-20 victory over the Wolf Pack. The win moves the Wildcats to 2-0 and drops Nevada to 1-1.

In the process, running back Nick Wilson reminded everyone that there’s more than just one star on this team.

Following a rough opening game, the sophomore running back scored three touchdowns on 194 yards rushing.

Wilson busted through open gaps, spun past hapless defenders and even made a leaping sideline catch that resembled something you’re more likely to see at a Cirque du Soleil act.

Wilson did all this on just 21 attempts on the ground—giving Arizona an ultra-productive 9.4 yards per carry.

The Arizona offense, which never hit a fourth gear against UTSA, found a good deal of success against Nevada’s defense. In total, the UA collected 570 yards, with 301 coming on the ground.

Quarterback Anu Solomon didn’t dazzle, but nonetheless produced an efficient 264 yards on 24-33 attempts. 

The first of Solomon’s two touchdown passes came in the second minute of the game; the other occurred early in the second half.

Junior receiver Cayleb Jones finished with 103 receiving yards, including a 41-yard haul.

While Arizona offense held a steady groove for most of the game, the defense did not fare so well early on minus Scooby.

In a near nightmare scenario, Arizona lost more talent at the position it could least afford to see another injury: middle linebacker.

Haden Gregory, a redshirt senior expected to fill in as Wright’s backup, left the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury of his own. Gregory never returned to action and was seen in the second half with a brace on his right knee.

It’s not yet clear as to the severity of Gregory’s injury.

Tre Tyler, a 5-foot-11-inch walk-on redshirt freshman, came in to replace Gregory. Tyler had not played in a competitive football game since his senior year at Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona.

Incredulously, Tyler lasted only a few plays before also leaving the game to an injury. However, he would return in the second half.

Without any true linebackers, Arizona’s defense struggled to slow down Nevada in the late first half and into the second quarter.

The Wolf Pack ran a pair of 60-plus-yard drives that resulted in a field goal and touchdown respectively.

Similar to the UTSA win, the second quarter in particular proved to be a losing battle for Arizona, as the Wolf Pack outscored the Wildcats 10-7 within the 15 period.

Arizona led 21-13 at half, but the lead could have been larger had Arizona not plagued itself with a pair of second-quarter mishaps on offense.

On Arizona’s first full drive of the quarter, the Wildcats marched ball inside the Nevada 10-yard line before failing to convert on fourth down.

Failed conversions turned out to be the offense’s Achilles heel, as the UA only converted on 2-13 third-down tries.

Later in the second quarter, Arizona committed its one turnover of the game on a controversial fumble by Wilson.

The running back’s knee appeared to be down following a short run, but the officiating crew ruled that he lost control of the ball before contact with the ground. The fumble set up good field position for the Wolf Pack, who made a field goal on the ensuing drive.

By the second half, Arizona fixed out most of its kinks on all sides of the ball, outscoring Nevada 23-7 over the final 30 minutes.

The Wildcats now have a week to prepare for a home matchup with NAU.


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.


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