SALT LAKE CITY (Tucson News Now) - Not much went right for the Arizona Wildcats Friday night in a 42-10 loss to the Utah Utes.
Star quarterback Kahlil Tate left the game early and the Wildcats defense has no answers for Utah’s Tyler Huntley.
But the Wildcats (3-3. 2-1 Pac-12) may have found another signal caller in backup Rhett Rodriguez.
Rhett Rodriguez, son of former Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez, came off the bench and went 20-for-38 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, the first in his collegiate career.
The run defense for Utah (3-2, 1-2 Pac-12) proved to be as tough as advertised. The Wildcats were held to only 72 yards on the ground in 31 attempts.
Utah quarterback Huntley was unstoppable against Arizona. He threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and caught a score.
On the first series of the game Huntley gave Utah a 7-0 lead with an 8-yard pass to Samson Nacua.
Arizona was forced to punt on the ensuing possession and Utah took the ball and drove it down the Wildcats’ throats.
Huntley completed passes of 39 and 20 yards before Zack Moss made it 14-0 with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes to go in the first quarter.
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Utah struck again early in the second quarter when Huntley completed a 68-yard scoring strike to Demari Simpkins.
The Utes went ahead 28-0 with 2 minutes to go when Huntley ran it in from 4 yards out.
Arizona went three-and-out on the opening series of the second half.
Utah took advantage and went up 35-0 when Huntley caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from Britain Covey.
Rodriguez led the way as the Wildcats ended the shutout on the next possession. He had passes of 21 and 17 yards but the drive stalled and the Wildcats settled for a field goal to make it 35-3.
The teams traded punts for a while before Rodriguez made history with his first career touchdown.
The Wildcats started the fourth quarter off right with a great drive that ended when Rodriguez hit Cedric Peterson for 42-yard strike to make it 35-10.
Utah answered right back and pushed it to 42-10 when Armand Shyne scored from 22 yards out.
Tate was 1-for-4 passing for 3 yards. He ran for 2 yards on three attempts.
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Second-string quarterback Jamarye Joiner didn’t fare much better. He was 3-for-4 passing for 17 yards. He had 5 yards on five carries.
Rodriguez’s performance was impressive, regardless of when it happened or what string defense he was facing.
The Catalina Foothills grad may have convinced head coach Kevin Sumlin to give him a chance at starting next week against winless UCLA (0-5, 0-2).