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Arizona Wildcats bounce back in rout over NAU Lumberjacks

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate looks down field against Northern Arizona in the second half during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Gary Brightwell ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on five carries, Khalil Tate accounted for three scores and Arizona bounced back from a disappointing opening loss by routing Northern Arizona 65-41 on Saturday night.

Arizona (1-1) had an extra week off to think about its opening loss to Hawaii.

The Wildcats took it out on the FCS Lumberjacks (1-1), scoring on their first seven drives and racking up 517 yards while setting a school record for points in a half for a 51-13 halftime lead.

Arizona had 720 yards of total offense, 431 rushing. Brightwell scored on a 94-yard run, Darrius Smith scored twice, and J.J. Taylor ran for 102 yards and a touchdown.

Tate hit 14 of 17 passes for 138 yards and threw two touchdowns to Tayvian Cunningham before being replaced by Grant Gunnell with 7:56 left in the second quarter. Tate played two series in the third quarter before sitting for good.

Coming off an opening win against Missouri State, Northern Arizona had a few good offensive moments against Arizona, but dug too a deep of an early hole to ever have much of a chance.

Case Cookus threw for 373 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the Lumberjacks.

Arizona’s onslaught started from the opening drive, when Tate hit Cunningham on a 47-yard score. Next series, Taylor broke free for a 49-yard run, then scored on a 25-yard burst up the middle.

Brightwell made it 21-0 midway through the first quarter, making one defender miss and racing past the rest on a 94-yard touchdown run, tied for second-longest in school history.

Tate went in untouched on a 1-yard run , then found Cunningham for a second time, on an 8-yard TD pass before heading to the bench.

Gunnell stepped in and threw TD passes on his first two collegiate drives, hitting Drew Dixon on a 9-yarder and Thomas Reid III on a 75-yarder. Gunnell added a 1-yard TD pass to Smith in the fourth quarter to put Arizona up 65-27.


Northern Arizona never stood much of a chance against the bigger, faster Wildcats, but the experience could help once the Big South season hits.

Arizona bounced back nicely from the Hawaii loss with a dominating performance, even if it was against an FCS opponent.


Northern Arizona hosts Western New Mexico next Saturday.

Arizona hosts Texas Tech next Saturday.


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