TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Matt Scott scrambled to his right and, barely inbounds, tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Miller in overtime to give Arizona a 24-17 victory over Toledo Saturday night in Rich Rodriguez’s coaching debut in the desert.
Arizona pulled it out after its kicker, John Bonano, missed a 25-yard field goal as regulation ended. Bonano missed a 24-yarder earlier in the game.
Scott threw for a career-high 387 yards and rushed for 74 yards. Ka’Deem Carey had 147 yards on 20 carries, including a 73-yard touchdown run.
Arizona amassed 624 yards, second-most in school history, to Toledo’s 358 but had two touchdowns called back by penalties, turned the ball over three times and missed the two short field goals.
Terrance Owens threw a 59-yard TD pass to Alonzo Russell for the Rockets, who have never beaten a Pac-12 team.
With both teams disdaining the huddle, the game was played at a frenetic pace. In all, the teams combined for 182 plays, 94 by Toledo and 88 by Arizona.
Owens split time with Toledo’s other returning quarterback, Austin Dantin, and didn’t return after he was hit hard and fumbled the ball away in the third quarter. Owens was 11 of 22 for 134 yards, Dantin 10 of 25 for 63 yards.
Scott, who sat out last season as a redshirt junior while Nick Foles completed his college eligibility, kept Arizona’s offense on the move all night. He completed 30 of 46 passes, including two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.
Dan Buckner caught 10 for 116 yards and Austin Hill seven for 139 yards, including a spectacular, diving, fingertip grab of Scott’s 30-yard pass for Arizona’s first touchdown.
Rodriguez came to Arizona after a season away from coaching. He built a powerhouse at West Virginia but was fired after three mediocre seasons at Michigan. Saturday was the first time in five head coaching jobs that he won his first game.
But it was a cliff-hanger.
Arizona seemed to have the game in hand when Scott rushed for 31 yards in three carries as the Wildcats drove to the Toledo 5 in the waning seconds, but he was tackled near the right hash mark, leaving Bonano a slight angle on his kick. The attempt wasn’t even close, hooking far to the left to send the game into overtime.
Toledo, with both quarterbacks and several other significant players returning from last season’s 9-4 team, moved the ball most of the night on the young, susceptible Arizona defense. But the Wildcats stopped David Fluellen for a 2-yard loss on third-and-1 at the Arizona 21, forcing the Rockets to settle for Jeremiah Detmer’s 40-yard field goal that tied it at 17-17 with 14:18 to play.
Arizona led 3-0 after the first quarter on Bonano’s 26-yard field goal.
After Detmer missed a 48-yard field goal, Arizona quickly advanced to the Rockets’ 9-yard line. But after Richard Morrison caught a short pass from Scott, he dropped the ball, and Toledo’s Toll Molls recovered at the Rockets’ 6.
Toledo took it downfield from there, going 94 yards in 10 plays, with Owens finding Russell wide open on the 59-yard touchdown play that made it 7-3 with 13:55 left in the half. The Wildcats came back with a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive, ending with Hill’s diving grab to put Arizona ahead 10-7 with 12:04 left in the half.
Arizona had a 67-yard touchdown run by Daniel Jenkins negated by a holding penalty.
Toledo regained the lead with a 63-yard drive aided by a defensive holding penalty and personal foul against Arizona. Owens had a 23-yard pass to Cordale Scott on the drive, which ended with Cassius McDowell scoring on a 1-yard run to put the Rockets ahead 14-10 with 12:04 left in the second quarter, a lead that held until halftime.
Arizona blew another scoring opportunity in the second quarter when Scott threw over the middle to Hill on a 32-yard play, but the receiver fumbled when he was hit, and the ball bounced into the hands of Toledo’s Robert Bell at the Rockets’ 34-yard line.
Toledo’s Matt Campbell, at 32 the youngest head coach in the FBS subdivision, flipped a coin to decide which of his experienced quarterbacks would start. Dantin won the toss, but Owens replaced him after two series.