TUCSON, Ariz. – Ka’Deem Carey rumbled for a season-high 236 yards as part of a 300-yard team rushing effort on Saturday night as the Arizona football team battled to a 35-24 win over Utah.
The Tucson native logged a career-high 40 carries, sealing the win with a late 44-yard touchdown on his final run of the night. The Wildcats ran for an even 300 yards to mark the third time this season UA has reached the 300-yard mark on the ground. B.J. Denker ran for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns from the quarterback position and Daniel Jenkins chipped in with 14 yards to supplement Carey’s effort.
Saturday’s performance marked the third time in his career that Carey topped the 200-yard mark, and he also went over 3,000 yards for his career on Saturday.
“On (Carey’s) last touchdown, I was yelling at him to get down, but I’m sure he didn’t hear me,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s just a great football player. He’s 10 pounds heavier and in great shape, and he has a certain hunger when he plays. He’s one of the best I’ve ever coached.”
With the running game opening up the field, Denker was efficient through the air against Utah. He completed 18-of-30 passes for 168 yards and a score, connecting with seven different receivers on the night. Nate Phillips led the Wildcat receiving corps with four catches for 63 yards and the touchdown, while Carey, David Richards and Samajie Grant each caught three balls.
For the night, UA finished with a 468-329 edge in total yards, including a 300-172 advantage in the running game. The Wildcats ran 88 plays, just shy of a season high, and piled up 26 first downs. Arizona was only penalized three times for 31 yards in the victory.
Jake Fischer had 12 tackles, including six solo stops, to pace an Arizona defense that forced a pair of turnovers and recorded three sacks. Sione Tuihalamaka had eight stops, including 1.5 for loss, and Scooby Wright had six on the night.
“It was a nice team win against a good, physical team,” Rodriguez said. “We made a few mistakes, but it was a good effort and a very good win. Our guys were ready to play.”
UA struck first on its initial possession of the game, primarily using its rushing attack to march 80 yards in eight plays for a 7-0 lead. Carey rumbled for 42 yards on the drive and Denker added 26, including the 10-yard scoring run.
After a Utah score to tie the score and an Arizona turnover on downs deep in opponent territory, Flowers intercepted Utes quarterback Travis Wilson at the Utah 14-yard line and returned the pick for his first-career touchdown to make the score 14-7 early in the second quarter. The interception was the fifth of Flowers’ career and the fourth pick-six for Arizona this season.
Richardson’s ninth-career interception set up Denker’s second touchdown run of the game, a one-yard plunge with 5:48 left in the second quarter that pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 20-7 at the break.
Arizona piled up 244 yards of total offense in the opening half, including 161 and two scores on the ground. Carey finished the half with 102 yards on 19 carries, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the ninth-straight game before halftime. Denker was 11-of-15 for 83 yards through the air – spreading the ball around to six different receivers – and added 45 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the first half.
Utah scored the first 14 points of the second half to take a 21-20 lead, and the scored remained that way until Denker hit Phillips for a seven-yard touchdown strike with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter. Denker ran the ball for a two-point conversion, putting Arizona back up by a score of 28-21.
A Utah field goal cut the Arizona lead to 28-24 with 7:11 left to play, but a 44-yard Carey touchdown run with 1:30 play cemented the victory for the Wildcats.
At halftime, Arizona honored Tedy Bruschi with the retirement of his jersey and the on-campus salute of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, which will occur in December.
The Wildcats will play the first of back-to-back road games next weekend when they venture to Colorado for a 5 p.m. MST tilt with the Buffaloes. Pac-12 Networks will have the television coverage, and Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett and Dana Cooper will have the call on the Arizona IMG Sports Network.For continued coverage of Arizona football, follow the team on Facebook at facebook.com/ArizonaFootball and on Twitter @ArizonaFBall.