Arizona rushed for 442 yards, led by a career-high 284 yards with two touchdowns by sophomore running back J.J. Taylor, in the Wildcats’ 35-14 victory over Oregon State on Saturday at Corvallis, Ore., in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Arizona (2-2, 1-0) won the battle of first-year coaches — Kevin Sumlin of the Wildcats and Jonathan Smith of Oregon State (1-3, 0-1) — thanks to a ball-control offense engineered by Taylor and fellow running back Gary Brightwell. The 113 yards on 13 carries by Brightwell, a sophomore, also marked a career high.
Taylor had gained 193 yards on 44 carries in the three games leading up to Saturday. It took him 27 carries Saturday to reach his mark, which is fourth-best in Arizona history behind Ka’Deem Carey (366 yards), current quarterback Khalil Tate (327) and Trung Canidate (288).
Tate, a preseason Heisman candidate, was hobbled by a tackle in the first half and finished with minus-9 yards on four carries. He completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 152 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
Taylor opened the scoring on a 40-yard run on Arizona’s first possession, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 12:37 left in the first quarter.
Oregon State answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Conor Blount to Trevon Bradford with 51 seconds left in the first quarter, culminating a 13-play, 85-yard drive that took 5:13 off the clock.
Blount, under duress most of the game, completed 17 of 24 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Oregon State had only 238 total yards of offense.
Arizona had 10 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Sophomore linebacker Colin Schooler had four tackles for loss, including a sack.
Arizona blew two scoring chances in the second quarter with missed field goals of 43 and 47 yards by Lucas Havrisik, but the Wildcats managed to take a 14-7 lead on a 21-yard pass from Tate to Shun Brown with 8:25 left in the half.
Tate connected on another scoring strike in the third quarter to Shawn Poindexter from 16 yards to increase the lead to 21-7 with 10:39 remaining.
Brightwell and Taylor capped Arizona’s scoring in the fourth quarter with touchdown runs, including a 62-yard breakaway score by Taylor.
—Field Level Media