Arizona came away from Pullman with a 59-37 win over Washington State. Read on to find out how the Wildcats did it, including Davonte' Neal's punt return, Anu Solomon's best performance of the season, and more.
The 15th-ranked Arizona Wildcats came away with a 59-37 victory over Washington State on Saturday. Here is how they did it:
Arizona's night started out on a fantastic note as a three-and-out led to a punt. Davonte' Neal caught the punt at his own 19 yard line and returned it 81-yards to give the Wildcats a quick lead. It was Arizona's first punt return for a touchdown this season and the first on the road since 2000.
Anu Solomon played quite possibly the best game of his young career on Saturday. Plagued by slow starts all season, Solomon came out firing and had a great performance, completing 26 of 38 passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns. All five scores were to different receivers.
Solomon also showed off his footwork throughout the game, rushing nine times for 31 yards.
Cayleb Jones, Austin Hill, Trey Griffey, Nate Phillips, and Neal were the five recipients of Solomon's touchdowns. Jones led all receivers with seven catches for 78 yards. Hill and Samajie Grant both caught four balls for 63 and 57 yards, respectively.
The Wildcats only had one rushing score on the night and it came from true freshman Nick Wilson. He bullied his way into the end zone to start the second half, but was limited in the game, rushing just 10 times for 18 yards.
Terris Jones-Grigsby was the main man for the Wildcats in Pullman, getting his number called 13 times for 107 yards. He did not see the end zone, but did catch a pass out of the backfield for a 15 yard gain.
Arizona's slow starts were a thing of the past on Saturday as the Wildcats scored 31 unanswered points to start the game. The defense held the Cougars scoreless in the first and third quarter while the offense was able to put up 24 points in the first and started the second half with 21 straight.
The kick return game for Arizona has been openly criticized by Rich Rodriguez this season. After the punt return for a touchdown, special teams looked to be on the rise, but Jared Baker fumbled the ball on a kickoff return late in the second quarter, which gave the Cougars excellent field position at the Arizona 23 yard line.
Washington State kicked a field goal on the drive and it was the first points the Wildcats had given up off a turnover all season.
Things weren't all bad for special teams, though. Late in the game, Washington State elected to kick the onside kick. After the ball bounced around a pile of players, Jones scooped it up and rushed towards the end zone. He threw a stiff arm to a defender and scored the touchdown. Officially, it was a 44-yard kickoff return.
Arizona's defense did what it needed to do on Saturday night and performed well for the majority of the game. Jared Tevis led the team with 13 tackles, including a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss. Jourdan Grandon added ten tackles of his own and had a pass breakup.
Even though Tevis was all over the field, the best player on the defensive side of the ball was Scooby Wright. The sophomore finished with eight tackles with three being sacks. Wright also forced three fumbles on the night.
Additionally, it was a night of firsts for two Wildcats. True freshman Cam Denson intercepted his first pass after taking over for an injured Jarvis McCall. Later in the game true freshman Jonathan Haden caught his first career pass, a three-yard wide receiver screen. It looked like he had some room to run, but was tripped up shortly after the catch.
The Wildcats’ 59 points are their most in a conference road game since scoring 59 against the Cougars at Martin Stadium in a 59-28 victory on November 8, 2008.