Solomon returns to field, Arizona routs Oregon St. 44-7
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Anu Solomon was back. So was the Arizona offense.
The Wildcats even played some defense, too.
Solomon returned from a one-game absence, the Arizona defense bounced back from two awful performances and the result was a 44-7 rout of Oregon State on Saturday.
The redshirt sophomore and second-year starter, who sat out last week’s 55-17 loss at Stanford because of a concussion, completed 17 of 30 passes for 276 yards, before sitting out the fourth quarter.
”He was probably a little bit rusty at times but I thought he saw the field pretty well,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.
The Wildcats (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) amassed 645 yards to 249 for the Beavers (2-3, 0-2).
What Solomon thought of his performance wasn’t known because he was not made available to reporters following the game. A team spokesman said the quarterback had to go to the training room.
Arizona rushed for 368 yards. Jared Baker led the way with 123, 70 on one play. Freshman Orlando Bradford gained 83 yards and scored three touchdowns. Nick Wilson, the Pac-12’s leading rusher entering the weekend, ran for 78 and scored twice.
”I was excited,” the third-stringer Bradford said. ”Coach called my number and I just wanted to do this for my team.”
After giving up 111 points the two previous weeks in blowout losses to UCLA and Stanford, Arizona allowed a season-low seven on Saturday.
”Defensively it was the best we’ve played all year,” Rodriguez said.
The defense was helped greatly by shifting outside linebacker Jake Matthews to fill the injury-depleted middle linebacker spot and inserting Paul Magloire into Matthews old position.
”Whatever they did against the other teams,” Oregon State first-year coach Gary Andersen said, ”and we all know what the scores were and what have you, that was a good defense that we played against today.”
Beavers freshman Seth Collins was 8 for 24 for 56 yards with one interception, ran for 56 yards and scored the Oregon State touchdown.
”I expected these kids to play well today, and I truly thought we would,” Andersen said. ”We absolutely did not.”
Collins and his top receiver Jordan Villamin left the game with injuries in the first half, Collins limping into the locker room before the second quarter ended. Both returned to start the second half.
Villamin had to be helped off the field after a crushing hit from Arizona safety Will Parks in the second quarter.
An official threw a flag on the play but it was picked up and replays showed Parks’ hit was legal.
Rodriguez called the play ”the tone setter” for the game.
The high in Tucson was 90 degrees and it probably pushed 100 on the field.
”At home, 90-degree weather, we like that,” Rodriguez said.
The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and needed just 2:06 to go 75 yards in nine plays, the big one a 50-yard pass from Solomon to wide open David Richards. Wilson capped the drive with a three-yard run.
Arizona’s next two drives stalled, and the Wildcats settled for a pair of field goals by Casey Skowron.
Oregon State was down only 13-7 after Collins burst up the middle 17 yards for a touchdown with 10:59 left in the first half, and it looked like the Beavers might make it competitive in their bid to give Andersen his first Pac-12 win.
But the Wildcats, the defending Pac-12 South champions, scored the next 31 points. The first 14 of them came on three plays from scrimmage.
After Oregon State’s kickoff, Baker ran through a big opening up the middle for 70 yards, setting up Wilson’s 7-yard touchdown run.
On the Beavers’ next possession, defensive lineman Anthony Fotu tipped Collins’ pass into the air, then gathered the ball in and rumbled six yards to the Oregon State 1. Bradford scored from there, making it 27-7.
Arizona got one more touchdown before halftime, converting on third down four times in a 15-play, 65-yard drive. Solomon threw 11 yards to Richards on third-and-10, then threw 18 yards to Cayleb Jones to the Beavers 3. Bradford scored two plays later from the 1 and the Wildcats led 34-7 at the half.
”We were pretty confident going into the game, and we thought we matched up pretty evenly against them,” Oregon State linebacker Jaswha James said. ”We just had to play harder than them and not let the heat affect us. Obviously we didn’t do that.”