It’s been a long time since Arizona had a game where the outcome was never in doubt, and it was a win, even if the offense left some points on the field and the defense tried to keep things interesting.
The Wildcats gained its most yards in more than three years, beating Colorado 43-20 on Saturday night in their Pac-12 home opener.
Arizona (3-2, 1-1) got a career-high 484 yards and six touchdown passes from Jayden de Laura, tying the single-game school record, with Jacob Cowing and Dorian Singer both posting 100-yard games. Cowing had 12 catches for 180 yards and his seventh TD of the season, topping 3,000 yards for his career, while Singer had nine catches for 163 yards and his first career score.
The reception and yardage numbers were career highs for both Cowing and Singer.
De Laura, who threw for 401 yards in last week’s loss at Cal, had the 5th-most yards by an Arizona QB in school history. His 513 yards of total offense are 3rd-most in school history.
Michael Wiley added two TD catches and 111 yards from scrimmage as Arizona gained 673 yards, the 6th-most in school history and most since 720 against NAU in 2019.
For as good as Arizona was on offense, though, it could have been better. It turned the ball over on downs at the Colorado 1-yard line in the second quarter, when it also missed a field goal just before halftime, and had to settle for a red zone field goal late in the third.
And the margin of victory may have been much larger had Arizona’s defense, which couldn’t tackle to save its life in the 49-31 loss at Cal, not given up so many chunk plays. Colorado (0-5, 0-2) finished with 340 yards, of which 194 came on nine plays.
As a result, the Buffaloes registered a season-high in points. But a fumble recovery by Paris Shand in the fourth quarter gave the UA its seventh takeaway of the season, one more than all of 2021.
Up 13 at the half, Arizona dug deep into its bag of tricks on its opening drive of the third quarter with a double pass that led to a score. DJ Williams took a pitch to the right, tossed back to de Laura and then he found Tetairoa McMillan on a 23-yard catch to make it 33-13.
It was the UA’s second trick play involving de Laura and T-Mac, with the freshman receiver throwing an 11-yard pass to de Laura that set up a Wiley TD catch on the game’s opening drive.
Colorado cut the deficit to 33-20 with 4:57 left in the third on a 7-yard Anthony Hankerson run in which he barreled through multiple UA defenders. Arizona upped the lead to 36-20 late in the third on a 29-yard field goal from Tyler Loop, who missed from 42 yards on the final play of the first half.
De Laura tied Tom Tunnicliffe’s 40-year-old TD mark with a 5-yard throw to Wiley with 8:57 left. Arizona got the ball back with 5:17 remaining and de Laura was still throwing, but the Wildcats took a knee after it got to the 20-yard line.
After Wiley scored to start the game Colorado tied it on its first drive, converting a pair of third downs including one via a 36-yard screen pass from Owen McCown to Charlie Offerdahl that set up McCown’s 1-yard TD run.
McCown, a true freshman and the son of former NFL QB Josh McCown, was 14 of 30 for 186 yards with a TD and also ran for 43 yards.
Cowing hauled in a 3-yard TD pass from de Laura on 4th and goal to put Arizona up 13-7 with 1:19 left in the first quarter. A bad hold led to no extra point attempted.
The UA went for it again on 4th and goal, this time from the 1, but Wiley was stuffed. The turnover on downs wasted another acrobatic catch by Singer, a 45-yard grab down to the 4.
Singer finally got his first career TD, after 46 receptions, on a 5-yard catch that he tipped to himself in the back of the end zone to put Arizona up 19-7 with 8:16 left in the first half.
Tanner McLachlan then got in on the First Career Touchdown party, scoring on an 8-yard catch but not before shedding a tackle in space, putting Arizona up 26-7 with 3:42 left before halftime.
Colorado got within 26-13 with 1:05 left before the break on a 14-yard TD catch by Daniel Arias. That drive included a 41-yard completion in which Arizona missed numerous tackles, as well as a 15-yard penalty on the Wildcats for sideline interference after someone made contact with an official.
Arizona faces its first ranked opponent of the season next Saturday when No. 13 Oregon comes to down.