SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Usually stout against the run, No. 20 Utah watched freshman Nick Wilson and No. 15 Arizona rush right by.
Wilson ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns as Arizona overcame an injury to quarterback Anu Solomon and pulled away from the Utes 42-10 on Saturday.
“We got outcoached, got outplayed and that was pretty apparent,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
As much as it was struggling on both sides of the ball, Utah closed the gap to 21-10 in the third quarter. Then an apparent punt return for a touchdown by Kaelin Clay called back because of a penalty.
“The turning point in the game was the punt return that got called back. If we had that one it’s 21-17 and it’s a ballgame,” Whittingham said.
But they didn’t have that score, and soon it wasn’t much of a contest at all.
In heavy rain at times, Wilson had the greatest rushing performance by a freshman in Wildcats’ history and topped the 1,000-yard mark this season. Arizona led 21-10 in the fourth quarter before Wilson scored on a 75-yard run.
Arizona (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) reached nine wins for the first time since its 1998 Holiday Bowl team went 12-1 and was ranked No. 4. The Wildcats retain slim hopes for a berth in the conference championship game as a matchup with No. 13 Arizona State looms next week.
The Wildcats ran for 298 yards, the most allowed by Utah (7-4, 4-4) this season.
“I don’t know if it’s the best offense we have played, but today they played really well. They were a good offense and we gave up too many plays . they were rolling,” Utah safety Brian Blechen said.
Solomon threw for 58 yards and got his first career rushing touchdown in the first half. He was fitted for a walking boot at halftime because of an apparent injury to his right foot.
Backup quarterback Jesse Scroggins only threw five times, completing three, as the Wildcats relied on their potent rushing offense and opportunistic defense to turn the game into a rout.
“It was raining really hard in the second half, so being able to throw the ball was going to be an issue for both teams. We had to run it and they knew we were going to run it, but we were still able to do it effectively,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.
Arizona beat a ranked team on the road for the second time this season, having downed then-No. 2 Oregon 31-24 on Oct. 2.
After Wilson’s breakaway score in the final period, Jared Tevis intercepted a pass tipped at the line by Derrick Turituri on Utah’s next possession.
Wilson ran 19 yards for his third touchdown on the next play. He had only one negative-yardage play in 20 carries against a defense that is among the nation’s leaders in tackles for loss.
Tra’Mayne Bondurant intercepted Utah reserve Connor Manning’s pass and returned it for a 39-yard touchdown to complete the scoring with 9:58 to play.
Arizona defensive lineman Dan Pettinato picked up a fumble and scored on a 31-yard return for a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson connected with Westlee Tonga on an 11-yard TD pass with seven seconds left in the first half, making it 21-7.
“I don’t think we as an offense played well,” Tonga said. “One misread, one miscue by any one person on the offense creates havoc for us. Everyone needed to be clicking on all cylinders, especially in this league.”
Wilson completed 16 of 29 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
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