TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -- After opening the season with a heartbreaking loss, the Wildcats kicked off their home slate with Northern Arizona Saturday night with a bang.
The Wildcats set a team record with more than 50 points in the first half. The Lumberjacks seemed to be exactly what Khalil Tate and the Wildcats needed.
Tate threw for 142 yards and two touchdowns while adding one score on the ground as Arizona took a 51-13 halftime lead in the non-conference match.
UA got ahead so quickly, backup quarterback Grant Grunnell saw plenty of action and threw for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
The Wildcats running game was also unstoppable. J.J. Taylor ran for 105 yards and a touchdown while Gary Brightwell had 98 yards and a score in the first half as well.
NAU quarterback Case Cookus threw for more than 170 yards and a touchdown in the first half against the Wildcats’ defense, which was dominant on the ground. At halftime, Arizona held the Lumberjacks to only 10 rushing yards.
The Lumberjacks chipped away at the lead throughout the second half, bringing the final score to 65-41.
The Wildcats’ offense produced more than 500 yards and the defense forced six turnovers but it was just Hawaii’s day. Everything seemed to go the Warriors’ way, including the final play of the game.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate had the ball as time was running out. With some amazing moves, he found running room and was headed to the end zone for a game-winning score before he was stopped at the 1-yard line. Tate threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. He added more than 100 yards on the ground.
Northern Arizona (1-0), which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision, opened its season last week with a 37-23 win over Missouri State.
Lumberajcks quarterback Case Cookus threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns in the win while Brandon Porter hauled in six catches for 140 yards and two scores.
NAU has never beaten Arizona in Tucson in 13 tries.
Arizona is honoring legendary coach Dick Tomey throughout the season. Tomey died in May at the age of 80 after short battled with lung cancer.
His family was at Saturday’s game and was expected to participate in the pregame coin toss. The Tomey family will also receive a helmet during an in-game presentation, along with a video tribute to the late coach.
The Wildcats are wearing special stickers on their helmets to honor Tomey, the winningest coach in school history. The sticker is a black circle with the letters DT in white.
Arizona will also honor Tomey later in the season during its homecoming game against Oregon State.