TUCSON, Ariz. – Senior Daniel Jenkins accounted for 152 yards of total offense and the Arizona football team piled up more than 300 yards on the ground on Friday in its season-opening 35-0 win over Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium.
The Wildcats recorded 393 yards of total offense on the night, 306 of which came on the ground. In addition to Jenkins’ career-high 139 yards and a score, quarterbacks B.J. Denker (71) and Javelle Allen (67) combined for 133 yards and a rushing touchdown each.
Arizona’s defense limited NAU to just 270 yards of total offense and 94 yards rushing in the second shutout of the Rich Rodriguez Era. Senior linebacker Jake Fischer and junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant shared team-high honors with seven tackles apiece, while the latter recorded a pair of interceptions – one of which he ran back for a score – to spark a defense that forced three turnovers on the night.
As a unit, the UA defense registered three sacks and 11 tackles for loss in the victory.
“It was a solid performance tonight,” Rodriguez said. “We had some issues execution-wise offensively, but the defense was good and they played hard. NAU played hard tonight, as well, and they have a good team. It was nice to get a win and see some of the new guys play for the first time.”
The Wildcats found the end zone on the season’s first possession, taking the opening kickoff and needing just 3:49 to march 75 yards. Denker capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins, the first scoring catch of the latter’s career.
Jenkins continued to provide fireworks for Arizona late in the second period, taking off on a 91-yard touchdown run – the third-longest in program history – to make the score 14-0 with 5:32 to play in the first half. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native finished the first half with 139 yards of total offense, including 129 rushing yards on just nine attempts, and a pair of scores.
Arizona’s defense was active in the first half, allowing NAU just 127 total yards and 32 yards on the ground. Fischer had five first-half stops, while senior cornerback Shaquille Richardson posted a pair of tackles for loss.
Bondurant got things going for UA in the second half, intercepting a tipped ball on the half’s first play from scrimmage and taking the ball 23 yards for a score. It was Bondurant’s second-career interception return for a touchdown.
Denker got the Wildcats on the board again midway through the third quarter, bolting for a 30-yard score. Freshman Devin Holiday intercepted NAU’s Kyren Poe on NAU’s next possession, the first pick of his collegiate career. Bondurant followed up with his second interception of the contest in the waning seconds of the third quarter, bringing Arizona’s total to three picks on the night.
Allen posted his first-career touchdown late in the fourth quarter, sprinting 61 yards up the middle to cap the night’s scoring.
Jenkins led UA with three catches on a quiet night for the passing game, with Garic Wharton and Johnny Jackson each coming up with two receptions. Denker finished the night 9-of-13 for 87 yards, a touchdown and a 150.8 passer rating.
The Wildcats will hit the road next weekend, visiting UNLV on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. PDT kickoff. CBS Sports Network will televise the action, with Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett and Dana Cooper on the radio call for the Arizona Radio Network.