No. 22 Wildcats' 42-32 win over UTSA comes with a cost
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona struggled defensively, was uneven on offense and had trouble putting away a smaller-conference team at home.
That wasn't even close to the worst news of the night. Losing All-American linebacker Scooby Wright to a knee injury early in the game trumped it all.
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 Wright went out with a left knee injury.
Wright, who swept the major defensive player of the year awards last season, went out in the first quarter, tried to return and went back out after one play. He spent the second half in street clothes, walking with a cane, and was scheduled to have an MRI Thursday night.
''I don't think it's bad - MCL, ACL, whatever - but I don't want to speculate,'' Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. ''We'll see what happens.''
Even before Wright went down, Arizona's defense struggled. The Wildcats scored two defensive touchdowns, but gave up 525 total yards to UTSA, which returned two offensive starters.
The offense was good at times, sputtered others, finished with a pedestrian-for-them 392 total yards. Solomon had with 229 yards on 22-of-26 passing, and Nick Wilson added 97 yards rushing.
''We thought we could have done better in all three aspects of the game,'' Solomon said. ''But everyone is happy and it's on to the next one.''
Led by Blake Bogenschutz, UTSA picked apart Arizona's defense throughout the night. A redshirt freshman, Bogenschutz shook off throwing an interception for a touchdown on his first pass to throw for 332 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-43 passing.
The Roadrunners missed some chances, though, and their two turnovers were immediately turned into point, leading to a third straight close loss to Arizona.
''We can learn a lot from this game,'' UTSA defensive end Jason Neill said. ''We missed a lot of opportunities, but we can fix those and get better.''
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.
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.
''I think the speed was maybe something we hadn't seen, but I had to find a way to bounce back,'' Bogenschutz said of the interception.
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.
The Wildcats held on from there, but will be holding their breath as they wait to hear the severity of Wright's injury.