Jayden de Laura accounted for four touchdowns, Tacario Davis returned a blocked field goal attempt 85 yards for a touchdown and Arizona beat FCS opponent Northern Arizona 38-3 in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
De Laura threw three touchdowns and scored on a 53-yard run that put the Wildcats up 35-3 with 2:02 left in the third quarter. He was 18-for-24 passing for 285 yards with one interception.
Northern Arizona was trailing 14-3 when attempting a 26-yard field goal on the first possession of the second half. Arizona’s Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei blocked it, and Davis scooped it up and took off for the Wildcats’ first score off a blocked field goal attempt since 2002.
Arizona gained more separation later in the quarter after stopping the Lumberjacks on fourth-and-2 from their 37. Tetairoa McMillan ended the drive with a diving 5-yard touchdown catch on a quick slant with 4:34 left in the quarter.
NAU quarterback Kai Millner completed 14 of 22 passes for 166 yards. Coleman Owen caught five passes for 90 yards.
Michael Wiley led Arizona in rushing with 52 yards on 10 carries, and he also had a team-high six catches for 57 yards. McMillan had a team-best 65 receiving yards on three catches.
The victory helped Arizona erase memories of a painful 21-19 loss to NAU on Sept. 18, 2021, when the Lumberjacks ended a 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats that had dated to 1932.
The Wildcats were in control for most of the first half, leading 14-0 early in the second quarter, but also made key mistakes, including a turnover on downs at Northern Arizona’s 35, a lost fumble at Northern Arizona’s 7 and a roughing-the-punter penalty that kept alive the Lumberjacks’ only scoring drive of the game.
Northern Arizona held possession for nearly the final eight minutes of the half, ending when Marcus Lye made a 49-yard field goal as time expired to cut the deficit to 14-3.
—Field Level Media
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