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Arizona Wildcats

Updated Aug 30, 2014 - 12:19 am

Anu Solomon, UA Wildcats roll over UNLV Rebels in season opener

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon (12) throws down field against UNLV during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona ran over Nevada-Las Vegas in a rout last season.

The Rebels loaded up to prevent that from happening, so the Wildcats went to the air and beat them with a record-setting performance.

Anu Solomon threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, and Arizona broke a 45-year-old school record with 787 total yards in a season-opening 58-13 rout over UNLV Friday night.

"If they're going to load up in the box, you need to be able to take some shots down the field," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We didn't hit them, but we hit some."

More than some, thanks to Solomon.

The redshirt freshman shook off some early-game miscues with a series of big plays to break the school freshman record for passing yards, highlighted by a 92-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill on the first play of the second half.

Terris Jones-Grigsby laid the groundwork, running for 124 yards and a touchdown in Arizona's first game in three years without two-time All-American Ka'Deem Carey. Freshman Nick Wilson added an 85-yard touchdown run to help the Wildcats break the school record of 691 total yards, set against New Mexico in 1969.

"Coach Rod likes points, and we wanted to give him points," Hill said after his first game since missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL.

UNLV failed to capitalize on a few early offensive opportunities and had no chance once Arizona got rolling for its second straight lopsided loss to the Wildcats.

Blake Decker threw for 252 yards and a touchdown in his debut for the Rebels, who lost to Arizona by the same score last season in Las Vegas.

"You have to make plays in space and that's what we're going to see on film, to a large degree," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. "That's what that offense does."

And they did it well with Solomon under center.

He spent his freshman season learning Arizona's system while redshirting behind B.J. Denker, then emerged from a four-way battle to start this season's opener.

Coach Rich Rodriguez said Solomon wouldn't have to worry about looking over his shoulder if he makes a mistake, but added the other quarterbacks would likely play this season.

Solomon, who's from Las Vegas, had a bit of trouble with his touch early, overthrowing a couple of long passes, including one to Samajie Grant that would have been a touchdown.

He finally dialed one late in the first quarter, dropping in a pass behind coverage for a 39-yard touchdown to Nate Phillips.

Solomon kept the big plays rolling after that, squeezing a ball in front of coverage to Grant, who turned it into a 63-yard touchdown pass. Solomon added a 13-yard scoring pass to Davonte' Neal that put Arizona up 24-6 at halftime.

Solomon opened the second half with the 92-yard catch-and-run TD to Hill and Jones-Grigsby was rewarded for his hard work with a 2-yard touchdown run that made it 38-13.

Solomon finished 25 of 44 and completed passes to 10 different players. Hill (110) and Grant (101) each went over 100 yards receiving.

"He didn't seem overly nervous," said.

Like Solomon, Decker won a close quarterback battle, edging out junior Nick Sherry after transferring from Scottsdale Community College.

Decker was able to gouge out a few big chunks in the first half, including a 52-yard pass to Devonte Boyd and a 49-yard run. The Rebels couldn't capitalize on the good field position, settling for a pair of field goals and a 43-yarder that Jonathan Leiva missed at the horn.

Decker hit Anthony Williams on a 2-yard score early in the third quarter, but it was too late; Arizona was well on its way to another blowout.

"It was a good experience playing at the Division I level," Decker said. "They're a good opponent and we have to look at the film and collectively get better. It's unacceptable how we played tonight. We need to get better."

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