TUCSON, Ariz. — Anu Solomon threw four touchdown passes to help No. 22 Arizona beat UTSA 42-32 Thursday night, but the Wildcats suffered a big blow when All-America linebacker Scooby Wright went out early with a left knee injury.
Arizona sputtered on offense most of the night and allowed UTSA, a team returning two offensive starters, to rack up 525 total yards.
Those areas can be fixed. Losing Wright could hurt a lot worse.
The junior, who swept the major defensive player of the year awards last season, went down in the first quarter and spent the second half in street clothes, walking with a cane.
Arizona scored two defensive touchdowns, but had numerous breakdowns, even before Wright went down.
UTSA’s Blake Bogenschutz had 332 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-43 passing after throwing an interception for a touchdown on the game’s first pass.
Solomon threw for 229 yards on 22-of-26 passing, and Nick Wilson ran for 97 yards.
The Roadrunners have given Arizona a bit of trouble over the past couple of seasons, playing two close games.
This year, the Wildcats have most of their skill players back on offense and UTSA returned six starters overall, fewest in the FBS.
No surprise then that the Roadrunners got off to a shaky start.
Bogenschutz had his first pass intercepted by Anthony Lopez and returned for 23 yards for a touchdown. UTSA’s Brett Winnegan took the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, but that was called back for a block in the back.
The Roadrunners also had a 17-play drive lead to no points when Danny Portillo missed a 33-yard field goal and were behind 14-0 after Solomon hit David Richards on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Yet they kept churning out yards, particularly after Wright went out.
He went down in the first quarter, tried to return the next series, but lasted one play before heading to the bench to wrap ice around his knee.
Bogenschutz set up Portillo for a 19-yard field goal, then threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to David Morgan II.
Even after Solomon ducked and dodged his way through UTSA’s defense to set up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Jackson, the Roadrunners still fought back. Portillo hit a 33-yard field goal and Bogenschutz followed with a 2-yard touchdown run just before halftime, pulling UTSA to 21-20. UTSA had a 328-202 advantage in total yards in the first half.
The Wildcats got off to a quick start in the second half, going up 35-20 after Solomon hit Nate Phillips on a 4-yard touchdown pass and Jamar Allah scooped up Aaron Grubb’s fumble for a 22-yard touchdown return.
Bogenschutz hit Aron Taylor on a 32-yard touchdown pass, but Solomon found Cayleb Jones for a 4-yard score to push the lead to 42-26.