Arizona Wildcats beat NAU 35-0 in season opener
Arizona football dominated the NAU Lumberjacks 35-0 in the season opener during a rainy debut of the newly remodeled Arizona Stadium.
The Wildcats (1-0) started the game without junior running back Ka’Deem Carey, who was fulfilling a suspension as a result of off-season incidents.
Arizona showed early that it wouldn’t treat Carey’s suspension as a setback.
Senior B.J. Denker started at quarterback and on the first play of the game, he rushed for nine yards.
The Daily Wildcat
The Daily Wildcat
A pass completed by Denker to junior receiver Garic Wharton for a gain of 31 yards highlighted the drive.
In the tenth play of the drive, Denker passed to Jenkins who rushed for 11 yards into the end zone.
As the rain continued throughout the half, the Wildcats kept the momentum.
NAU ended its opening drive with an attempt at a field goal, but missed.
After an Arizona turnover, Jenkins scored a 91-yard touchdown, the third longest in school history.
“The holes opened up like the red sea,” Jenkins said. “And I just took it.”
At halftime, Jenkins led in rushing with 129 yards. Denker was 7-for-9, for 80 yards passing.
The Wildcats came out of the locker room strong and opened the second half with an interception by junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant, tipped by true-freshman linebacker Scooby Wright. Bondurant ran for 23-yards and scored a touchdown.
Denker showed his mobility after a series of uneventful drives. With a rush of 30 yards, Denker scored a touchdown for the Wildcats to extend the lead to 28.
Another true freshman shined when Devin Holiday intercepted a pass after two NAU incompletions. The interception couldn’t be converted to points however, as senior kicker Jake Smith missed the field goal attempt.
Besides an interception, Holiday had two tackles along with true-freshman linebacker, Derrick Turituri. Wright had six total tackles, the second highest number on the squad.
“You always have a little nerves when you have young guys play,” Bondurant said. “But we have young guys that are ready to step up. We’re proud of them.”
NAU showed a glimmer of hope after a fourth down conversion to the Arizona 32 yard line. That glimmer was short lived, because after two incomplete passes, Bondurant had his second interception of the game with 10 seconds left in the third.
Just as the rain didn’t let up, Arizona didn’t either.
Late in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman, Javelle Allen, came on the field to spell Denker and scored on a 61-yard touchdown run to make the final 35-0.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez described the performance as “solid” but said there were issues with execution. Going forward he would like to see the ball thrown better and more third down conversions.
“It was a solid performance tonight. We had some issues execution-wise offensively, but defense was good and they played hard,” Rodriguez said. “Our guys were tuned in tonight. It was nice to get a win and see some of the new guys play for the first time.”
— Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani