Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate tied a career-high with five touchdown passes and set a personal passing mark with 349 yards to lead the Wildcats to a 62-31 win over FCS opponent Southern Utah on Saturday night in Tucson, giving coach Kevin Sumlin his first victory at the school.
Tate completed 13 of 20 pass attempts without an interception. He rushed for only 19 yards on four carries, increasing his season totals to 41 yards on 19 carries after rushing for 1,411 yards last season.
Shun Brown (five receptions for 97 yards) had two touchdown receptions while Tony Ellison (four catches for 111 yards) had one. Arizona (1-2) nearly had two receivers reach at least 100 yards for the first time since 2014.
Gary Brightwell led Arizona in rushing with 86 yards on nine carries. The Wildcats amassed 626 yards of total offense compared to 463 for Southern Utah (0-3). The Thunderbirds had 98 offensive plays to 60 for Arizona largely because of the Wildcats’ big plays on offense.
Arizona, which scored on 10 of its 11 possessions, never trailed and appeared to be taking control of the game after scoring on its first possession — a 17-yard pass from Tate to Ellison — and building a 14-3 lead on an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by J.J. Taylor with 14:42 left in the first half.
But Southern Utah scored after two long possessions, each 13 plays for 75 yards, to tie the game at 17 with 2:39 left in the half.
Southern Utah running back Jay Green rushed for a combined 29 yards on consecutive plays, including a 10-yard run for the first touchdown. Green finished with 78 yards on 15 carries.
After Arizona’s Lucas Havrisik made a 32-yard yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-10 with 7:41 remaining, Southern Utah quarterback Chris Helbig concluded the other long drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:39 left.
Helbig completed 27 of 44 pass attempts for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Tate’s barrage of touchdown passes followed, starting with an 11-yard toss to Brown with 23 seconds left until halftime, giving Arizona a 24-17 lead.
In the third quarter, Tate completed touchdown passes of 2 yards to Cedric Peterson, 65 yards to Brown and 75 yards to Shawn Poindexter.
—Field Level Media