Houston quarterback D’Eriq King threw for 246 yards with a career-high four touchdowns and ran for two more scores in the Cougars’ 45-18 victory over Arizona in a nonconference game at TDECU Stadium in Houston on Saturday.
Arizona, in its first season under former Houston and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, is 0-2 for the first time since 1981. The Wildcats have lost four consecutive games dating to last season.
Houston (2-0) withstood a late rally by Arizona, which scored 18 unanswered points in the second half when King was on the bench after he thought his day was through. He came back and ran for a 4-yard touchdown with 1:48 left in the game to cap the scoring.
The Cougars finished with 551 yards of total offense, including 297 on the ground, led by Terence Williams’ 65 yards on 12 carries and Patrick Carr’s 62 yards on six carries.
King had 31 yards on five carries and wideout Marquez Stevenson had a 60-yard run on an end-around that set up King’s last score.
Houston built a 31-0 lead by halftime behind three touchdown passes thrown by King, who passed for 224 yards in the first half, outdueling preseason Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate.
Tate finished with 341 yards passing while completing 24 of 45 pass attempts with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Rhett Rodriguez, son of former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, who was fired after last season, replaced Tate on the Wildcats’ final possession.
Tate’s first interception in the first half, grabbed by safety Garrett Davis off a tip, resulted in a 40-yard drive for a touchdown for the Cougars.
King scored on a 1-yard sneak over the middle in that possession, giving Houston a 14-0 lead with 8:29 left in the first quarter.
The Cougars scored touchdowns on four of their first six possessions of the game. In that span, they punted once and Dalton Witherspoon made a 35-yard field goal with 12:38 left in the second quarter.
King’s four consecutive completions, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brysson Smith, put Houston up 31-0 with 3:44 left in the first half.
The Cougars picked right up where they left before halftime, driving for a touchdown on a six-play, 64-yard drive, capped by King’s 18-yard pass to Keith Corbin with 12:09 left in the third quarter to increase the lead to 38-0.
King, who did not throw an interception, thought he was done for the day after that scoring drive. Arizona rallied for its 18 points after, including a 49-yard field goal by Lucas Havrisik, rushing touchdowns by Darrius Smith and Tate, and a safety.
—Field Level Media