Friday night’s game between Arizona and Northern Arizona went about as expected with the Wildcats defeating the Lumberjacks 35-0 at Arizona Stadium.
"It was a solid performance tonight," Rich Rodriguez said. "We had some issues execution wise offensively, but the defense was good and they played hard.
"NAU played hard today as well and they have a good team. 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."
Arizona started on its own 25-yard line with a nine-yard run by B.J. Denker followed by a seven-yard run from Daniel Jenkins. Denker followed with a five-yard run and after two yards on the ground from Jenkins, gained five on the ground yet again.
Two plays later, Denker found Garic Wharton for a 31-yard gain and two plays after that, connected with Jenkins for the 11-yard touchdown to give Arizona the 7-0 lead with 11:11 left in the first quarter.
NAU tried to respond on its own 18-yard line with a six-yard run by Zach Bauman. Two plays later, Kyren Poe found R.J. Rickert for 25 yards. After a six-yard run by Bauman, Nick Cole caught an eight-yard pass. Two plays after that, Bauman ran for 13 yards.
However, the drive stalled there with a sack by Tevin Hood and a holding penalty on NAU. Not long after, NAU missed the 42-yard field goal and Arizona held its 7-0 lead.
Arizona started on its own 25-yard line with two combined runs for 17 yards by Jenkins. Denker then completed a four-yard pass to Johnny Jackson before Jenkins gained six more on the ground. The Lumberjacks forced the Wildcats into a fourth and five situation and Arizona could not convert, turning the ball over to NAU.
The UA proceeded to force a three and out to take over on its own 13-yard line and a 14-yard pass from Denker to Terrence Miller ended the first quarter with the Wildcats up 7-0.
Arizona was not able to get anything going to start the second quarter and was forced to punt, giving NAU the ball on the 50-yard line.
After a three and out by the Lumberjacks, Arizona took over at its own 18-yard line and started with a 17-yard pass to Jared Baker. In a continuing theme, however, Arizona went three straight plays with a six-yard run being the only success and was once again forced to punt.
NAU took over on its own 14 with a seven-yard pass to Bauman. Two plays later, Poe found Cole for 13 yards. The drive then stalled and the Lumberjacks punted on fourth and one with the Wildcats taking over from their own nine-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, Jenkins ran for a 91-yard touchdown, as the extra point made it 14-0 in favor of Arizona with 5:32 left in the first half. The 91-yard run is the third longest run in Arizona school history.
NAU tried to respond starting on its own 25. It was able to keep the drive alive due to a late hit by Kirifi Taula on third down. Two plays later, Poe connected with Cole for 20 yards in the air. Arizona’s defense then stepped up and forced the punt, taking the 14-0 lead into the half.
NAU started the second half on its own 18-yard line, but Arizona’s blitz worked out when a tipped pass by Scooby Wright led to a pick six by Tra’Mayne Bondurant, as the extra point made it 21-0 with 14:47 left in the third quarter.
Arizona forced a three and out on NAU’s next possession and took possession on its own 31-yard line. The Wildcats matched the three and out, giving the Lumberjacks the ball on their own five-yard line. The three and out favor was returns, as the Wildcats got the ball on the Lumberjacks’ 48-yard line.
Three plays after a pass interference call, Denker scored on a 30-yard run with the extra point giving the Wildcats a 28-0 lead with 8:34 left.
The Lumberjacks could only go three plays before turning it over again, as Devin Holiday came up with the interception on NAU’s 25-yard line. Baker was able to get two runs for a combined 12 yards before the drive stalled. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Jake Smith missed a 28-yard field goal.
The Lumberjacks tried to get on the board with a six-yard run by Bauman from their own 20. Poe completed a 17-yard pass to Rickert and Bauman followed with a 14-yard run before Casey Jahn gained eight on the ground.
A few plays later, Bauman converted the fourth and run with a two-yard gain. Arizona’s defense then forced consecutive losses on the ground before Bondurant had his second interception of the contest, as the Wildcats went into the fourth quarter up 28-0.
"I just read the quarterback's eyes," Bondurant said. "I dropped back into my zone, he looked at me once, so I tried to bait him, but he looked away.
"I knew the ball was coming, so I made sure I didn't drop it. i helped my defense get off the field, so it's always good to do that."
Arizona was forced to punt it and the Lumberjacks took possession on the UA 44-yard line. Bauman started the drive with a six-yard run and followed it up with a gain of one on the ground. A holding call made life a bit more difficult for the Lumberjacks, but a 16-yard pass to Jesse Brantley kept the drive going.
After an incomplete pass, Jahn gained eight on the ground. Bauman picked up the first down with a three-yard run before Rickert caught a three-yard pass. Bauman followed with two-yard run and on third down, Bauman got the first with a six-yard run.
After a 15-yard penalty and incomplete pass, Derrick Turituri picked up the first sack of his career and NAU missed a field goal to keep the shut out going.
"We had a lot of freshmen play," Rodriguez said. "Scooby Wright, Devon Holiday, and Derrick Turituri played a lot. All of the special teams had freshmen on them"
Shortly after, Javelle Allen saw the first action of his career and ran for six yards. On the next play, he found a huge hole and scored from 61 yards out as the extra point made it 35-0 with 4:40 left.
Despite the win, Rodriguez knows that Arizona needs to be more effective next week.
"We need to throw the ball better and convert more third downs," he said. "We had a lot of third and shorts that we didn't execute.
"NAU did well to stop us. but there was a lot of lack of execution that got us off the field after third downs. We should have had more first downs because once we got a few, we started to roll."