Injuries and suspensions left Arizona a bit shorthanded, but they still managed to beat Texas San Antonio 42-32 to open the 2015 football season.

No. 22 Arizona (1-0) appeared destined to rout the Roadrunners when safety Anthony Lopez intercepted a pass from Blake Bogenschutz on UTSA’s first play from scrimmage, racing 23-yards untouched into the end zone for the early 7-0 lead. The Wildcats would then add seven more points on a six-yard touchdown pass from Anu Solomon to David Richards before the conclusion of the first quarter. However, UTSA would respond with 10 unanswered points, and from there it was on.

The Roadrunners (0-1) did nearly everything necessary to win. They outgained Arizona 525-392 in total yards. Bogenschutz outpassed Solomon 332-229 through the air. UTSA rushed the ball for 193 yards, compared to Arizona gaining 163 on the ground. The visitors also racked up 29 first downs to Arizona’s 25, while possessing the ball for over 35 minutes. In fact, UTSA had a whopping 38 snaps inside of Arizona territory in the first half, which is one reason they only trailed the Wildcats 21-20 at intermission.However, what UTSA could not do is overcome its own mistakes, while accounting for Arizona’s own big plays.

In addition to the Lopez pick six, Arizona’s defense added a second touchdown with 5:57 to play in the third quarter whenJamar Allah picked up an Aaron Grubb fumble and sprinted 22-yards for the score to put the Wildcats up 35-20.

Earlier in the game, Solomon rolled left, avoided the sack, scrambled back across the field while avoiding would-be tacklers to then heave a pass to a wide open Johnny Jackson, who dove into the end zone for a 21-yard score. The heady play, along with Lopez’s surprising game-opening, shining moment, was the reason why Arizona led at halftime.

In the final frame, Arizona’s special teams made an impact when DaVonte’ Neal broke free off the edge to block a 44-yard field try by UTSA’s Daniel Portillo. The block and eventual recovery and return by Jamar Allah gave Arizona possession of the ball near midfield, still clinging to a tenuous 35-26 lead. Solomon and the offense would capitalize, driving 47 yards in four plays to score on a Solomon pass to Cayleb Jones from four yards out.

Overall, Arizona’s defense accounted for 14 points. Its special teams also served to deny UTSA seven points out of its kicking game, which whiffed on an extra point attempt, missed a field goal, and had a second miss blocked by Arizona’s Neal.

Add it all up and Thursday’s outcome could have been entirely different.

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