TUCSON, Ariz. — Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 236 yards in a school record 40 carries, capping off his night with a 44-yard touchdown run with 1:30 to play to seal Arizona’s 35-24 victory over Utah Saturday.
B.J. Denker ran for two touchdowns and passed for another for the Wildcats (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) in their first conference victory of the season.
Utah (4-3, 1-3), coming off its stunning upset of then-No. 5 Stanford, lost quarterback Travis Wilson with an injury to his right hand late in the first half.
Backup Adam Schulz threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Sean Fitzgerald to put Utah up 21-20 early in the third quarter after Arizona led 20-7 at the half.
Carey, the nation’s leading rusher last season, amassed the second-most yardage in his career, exceeded only by his Pac-12 record 366 against Colorado last season.
Moments before his late TD run, Carey had fumbled for the first time this season, giving Utah, down just 28-24, the ball at the Arizona 39. But the Utes stalled at the 23 and Andy Phillips’ 40-yard field goal was wide left. Phillips, 11 for 11 on field goals this season entering the game, also missed a 42-yarder. He made one from 44 yards.
After the miss, Carey took the ball repeatedly as the Wildcats moved downfield, then burst through for the long run that clinched the victory.
Down 20-7 at halftime, Utah scored 14 points in a span of 91 seconds to take the lead.
Arizona’s Johnny Jackson muffed a punt and the Utes’ Chase Dominguez recovered at the Wildcats’ 17. Schulz threw 16 yards to Dres Anderson, then Kelvin York scored on a one-yard run to cut the lead to 20-14.
After the kickoff, the Wildcats drove the ball to midfield, then went for it on fourth-and-two from the Utah 46, and Carey was stopped a yard shy of the first down. On the next play, Schulz threw deep to a wide open Fitzgerald for a 55-yard touchdown and the PAT put the Utes up 21-20 with 9:08 left in the third quarter.
It was Utah’s first and only lead of the game.
Arizona went back ahead early in the fourth quarter. Nate Phillips made a tough catch of Denker’s 36-yard pass to the 9-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 7, Denker rolled to his left and drilled a pass to Phillips in the end zone. Denker ran for the two-point conversion and the Wildcats were back on top, 28-21, with 13:32 remaining.
Phillips’ 44-yard field goal cut it to 28-24 with 7:11 left.
Carey started his night much the way he ended it.
On Arizona’s first play of the night, the junior running back burst through for a 30-yard gain. Seven plays later, Denker scored on a 10-yard run and the Wildcats were up 7-0.
The Utes took the subsequent kickoff and tied it with an eight-play, 71-yard drive. Luckey Radley had runs of 17 and 37 yards and, on third and goal, Wilson threw two yards to Nate Orchard for the touchdown to tie it at 7-7.
Arizona responded with a 17-play drive but on fourth-and-one at the Utah 2-yard line, Denker was sacked by Trevor Reilly.
That only temporarily derailed the Wildcats.
With Utah pinned at its 10 in a third-and-nine situation, Wilson’s pass over the middle was picked off by Marquis Flowers, who ran untouched 14 yards to the end zone and Arizona led 14-7 less than a minute into the second quarter.
Carey’s running and Denker’s passing led Arizona on a 13-play, 72-yard touchdown drive later in the quarter. Denker scored from the 1-yard line, the PAT attempt was blocked and the Wildcats were up 20-7.
Wilson left late in the first half and was on the sidelines in the second half with the thumb on his throwing hand taped.
Schulz had thrown only five passes this season before Saturday night.