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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona football takes down Colorado 38-20 on 100th Homecoming anniversary

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett

Arizona safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant (21) runs down field for an Arizona touchdown after a Colorado fumble during Arizona’s 21-17 lead against Colorado at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. Bondurant scored two of Arizona’s three touchdowns in the first half. 

It only took Colorado 11 seconds to strike fear into those at Arizona Stadium. The Buffaloes scored a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage on Saturday, a 75-yard deep ball from quarterback Sefo Liufau to wide receiver Shay Fields.

And the crowd went silent.

“It was kind of quiet, wasn’t it?” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “The crowd was quiet; the sidelines [were] quiet.”

Arizona (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference) went on to defeat Colorado 38-20 behind a strong defensive performance highlighted by big plays and the return of the explosive offense that fans had grown accustomed to seeing.

For it being Arizona’s 100th Homecoming anniversary, the crowd wasn’t as big of a factor as one would think, especially considering how the Buffaloes came out with a bang. That bang jump-started a Colorado (2-8, 0-7) squad looking for its first conference win of the season, a feat that the Buffaloes failed to achieve.

At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 7-7 and Colorado was holding its own against the Wildcats. From that point on, turnovers plagued the Buffs on seemingly all the most important drives.

The first of which came on Colorado’s first drive of the second quarter when UA safety Jared Tevis sacked Liufau, forced the quarterback to fumble and recovered the ball in one swift stroke. Less than two minutes later, UA wide receiver Tyrell Johnson found the end zone and gave Arizona the lead.

The stat sheet may have said Arizona outscored Colorado by just four points in the second quarter, but the momentum the team gained toward the end of the half transitioned into a dominant second half.

Behind the arm and legs of starting quarterback Anu Solomon, the Wildcats outscored the Buffaloes 17-3. Fresh off a 18-48 passing performance against UCLA at the Rose Bowl last week, Solomon gave the Homecoming crowd plenty to cheer for on Saturday night.

Solomon finished 21-38 with 211 passing yards and four touchdown; plus, the freshman added a career-high 115 rushing yards on 12 carries.

Rodriguez said it was everything the team needed and then some.

“I thought Anu really competed well and ran well,” Rodriguez said. “His running was probably the difference for us offensively.”

Adding to the theme of comeback players was the reemergence of UA running back Nick Wilson, who had been a fixture on the team’s injury report over the past few weeks.

Wilson ended the game with 153 well-earned, physical rushing yards on his 21 carries. Despite not scoring a touchdown, his downhill running style punished the Colorado linebackers to the tune of zero negative rushing attempts.

For an Arizona offense that had just 80 rushing yards last week, the recommitment to a powerful running game paid huge dividends. The 288 team rushing yards was the most since the team had 353 in the week one matchup with UNLV.

In total, the Wildcats recorded four turnovers and scored a touchdown after each one, dominating the points of turnover margin 28-0.

UA wide receiver Samajie Grant capitalized off those turnovers, scoring both of his touchdowns after CU turnovers.

After the game, Grant reiterated that for this group of wide receivers, it’s not about who scores or gets the most receptions; they’re all about team.

“It’s not really a competition,” Grant said. “We’re just all trying to help the team out. That’s what our coaches coach us, and that’s what they teach us. It’s not a selfish thing. You just got to help out your brother.”

Arizona came into Saturday with just six interceptions on the season, tied for eighth in the Pac-12, but added two more to the season totals. Safety Jourdon Grandon picked off the first one toward the end of the first half, and cornerback Devin Holiday, who came into the game for a banged up Cam Denson, recorded his first interception of the year a few minutes into the fourth quarter.

“I saw that [Colorado] motioned away and they singled out Cam, and, you know, they were trying to go at him all night,” Grandon said. “So, I was like, ‘All right; let me try to lean this way,’ and he looked there immediately. So, I just started to weave, and the ball came. I just broke and dove for it.”

Combining the running game with the play of the defense, the Wildcats dominated possession over Colorado in the fourth quarter to the tune of 11:17 to 3:43. Wilson and Solomon teamed up for 118 rushing yards in the final quarter alone, a far cry from the season-long theme of Arizona losing the time of possession battle.

In fact, it was the first time since the Oct. 2 matchup with Oregon, and just the third time this season, where Arizona came out on top of the time of possession numbers.

For an Arizona team that was 1-2 over the last three games, it was good to be home.

“It’s always good to come home, especially Homecoming,” UA safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant said. “It’s always a great event; it’s a big thing for the seniors. You see all the alumni coming back, guys you played with before. It was a good night, and we enjoyed it.”

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