They did what they were supposed to do — and then some.
Facing the worst rushing defense in the Pac-12, the Arizona Wildcats set a new school rushing record in a 49-28 blowout victory over the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday in front of 40,984 on Senior Night at Arizona Stadium.
The Wildcats scampered for 534 yards, breaking the record set last year against ASU (511). Arizona’s seniors were carried off the field afterwards.
“It’s surreal,” said redshirt senior offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek. “If I could stay here forever, I would definitely do it. This has become so much of my life. I just don’t want it to end.”
Arizona improves to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12, and will face the Oregon Ducks next Saturday at 5 p.m. MST in Eugene.
Khalil Tate ran for 206 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries, and only threw the ball seven times, completing five of his attempts for 68 yards, along with an interception.
J.J. Taylor rushed for 129 yards on 10 carries.
Senior Nick Wilson had 17 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown in his final game at Arizona Stadium, while fellow senior Zach Green added two short TD runs.
Even wide receiver Tony Ellison got in on the action, rushing for a 27-yard touchdown on a reverse play.
“J.J. had a good night running up the middle and Khalil had a good night running outside,” Alsadek said. “That’s what we live for. You know we’re going to run it and we’re still going to win.”
Arizona tallied 322 rushing yards in the first half alone, and averaged 9.7 yards per carry in the game.
The Wildcats scored on four of their first five drives, taking a 28-0 lead at the half, as OSU only mustered 82 yards of offense in the first two periods.
The only miscue the UA offense had was on its second drive when Tate was intercepted at the OSU three-yard line, lofting a pass into double coverage.
Oregon State played better to start the second half, scoring on its first two drives, but Arizona matched both of them.
Tate bolted for a 72-yard touchdown run and Green, who ran for a four-yard touchdown to put Arizona up 14-0 in the first quarter, had a three-yard plunge to put Arizona up 42-14 with 33 seconds left in the third.
Typical Saturday night for Khalil Tate pic.twitter.com/ulEju9zxLN— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) November 12, 2017
The Beavers would counter with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 15-yard touchdown catch by former Pima CC product Timmy Hernandez to make it 42-21 with 10:44 left.
The Wildcats’ defense surrendered 278 yards in the second half, regressing after a strong first half.
Arizona defensive tackle Dereck Boles had a season-high seven tackles (one for loss). Freshman linebacker Colin Schooler had six tackles (three for loss), including two sacks. Kylan Wilborn had a sack, too.
Tony Fields II, Marcus Griffin, and Malcolm Holland each tallied tackles for loss.
Arizona was 6-7 on third down; Oregon State was 6-13.
“I thought we played pretty sound in the first half and we came out slow in the second half,” Schooler said. “I don’t think we played a full game that we were capable of and we have to get better. We got frustrated when they were scoring, but I thought we did a pretty good job of sticking to the game plan”
Oregon State quarterback Darell Garretson was 16 for 28 for 209 yards and four touchdowns, and was intercepted by Lorenzo Burns late in the fourth quarter.
OSU running back Ryan Nall carried the ball 22 times for 95 yards, and had a 44-yard touchdown grab with 3:22 left in the fourth. Oregon State recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Brandon Dawkins replaced Tate with 10:44 left in the fourth and finished a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a short touchdown run.
Wilson eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark on the drive.
“He is a great young man,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He has been the main leader along with Zach Green for the running backs. They both played well again and it was neat to have Nick get 100 in his last game here. He’ll remember that for a long time.”
Taylor said the running backs were “all happy” for Wilson.
“He needed 11 more yards and we were pushing him to get that, and he ended up getting it, so we’re proud of him,” Taylor said.
Senior walk-on quarterback Zach Werlinger took the final snaps for the Wildcats.
“I’m happy and proud for our seniors,” Rodriguez said. “They are a great class and great group of young men. They have given a lot to this program and I hope this is a night they remember for the rest of their lives.”
Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles injury
Arizona safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles left the game on two different occasions, both of which appeared to be the result of a leg injury
The junior exited with 12:42 in the third quarter, but returned before leaving the game again with 11:33 left in the fourth quarter. He would not return.
Arizona wide receiver Shun Brown hardly played, either, as Rich Rodriguez said he was “banged up.”
The junior was listed as probable on the injury report with a foot injury.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire