Led by a dominant rushing attack, the Arizona Wildcats breezed past the Oregon State Beavers 35-14 in Corvallis to open Pac-12 play.
J.J. Taylor rushed for a career-high 284 yards, scampering for a 40-yard touchdown on Arizona’s opening drive then a 63-yard touchdown to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
His backup, Gary Brightwell, also had a career day, running for 113 yards. His eight-yard touchdown put Arizona up by three scores early in the fourth.
In all, Arizona rushed for 442 yards on 8.7 yards per carry. Khalil Tate was visibly hobbled by his ankle injury and finished with a negative rushing total, but went 9-for-17 for 152 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Shun Brown caught a screen pass and reversed field for a 21-yard touchdown that put Arizona up 14-7 in the second quarter, then Tate connected on a slant with Shawn Poindexter that put UA up 21-7 early in the third after a fake field goal run by holder Jake Glatting extended the drive.
It’s the Wildcats’ second straight win as they pull even at 2-2. It’s also the first time they have won their conference opener since 2014.
Arizona’s defense still struggled on third down — Oregon State was 8-for-17 — but held OSU to 238 yards and 3.4 yards per play. The Beavers were one of the nation’s leaders in explosive plays coming into this one, but their longest play went for 25 yards — a catch-and-run touchdown by Timmy Hernandez that made it 28-14 with 6:54 left in regulation.
Colin Schooler was an All-Star, logging 10 tackles (four for loss) and a sack. Jalen Harris and PJ Johnson took down the QB too, as UA’s pass rush came to life in the second half.
Some things to complain about: special teams, clock management and penalties.
Lucas Havrisik missed a 45-yard field goal wide left (by a lot) then was short on a 55-yarder. Those two misses were why Arizona went with a fake field goal in the third quarter.
Arizona missed an opportunity to extend its second quarter lead by being overly conservative. After Taylor ran for a first down to the UA 37 with roughly 50 seconds left, the Wildcats opted to let the clock run instead of using one of their two remaining timeouts.
Tate connected with Poindexter for 50 yards on the next play but time expired, preventing Arizona from attempting a 30-yard field goal.
Arizona also had a touchdown wiped away when an ineligible receiver downfield penalty nullified a diving grab by Tony Ellison.
The Wildcats had seven penalties for 55 yards. Tate was called for intentional grounding midway through the second that resulted in a long 55-yard field goal for Havrisik. His kick was short.
Anthony Mariscal fumbling at the goal line isn’t a good look either, even if it was in garbage time.
Arizona returns to action Saturday when it hosts USC (2-2, 1-1 Pac-12) in a crucial divisional game.