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September 8, 2013
After stepping on the field briefly in the last series of the opening quarter, his season debut after serving a one-game suspension last week, Carey took his first handoff 58 yards for the touchdown early in the second quarter. The Wildcats never stopped running, either.
Carey collected 171 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and the Wildcats produced 478 yards of total offense in a 58-13 rout over UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The junior was held out against Northern Arizona, per team policy, stemming from a pair of off-field incidents in the offseason. With one full game and nearly a quarter worth of sitting, Carey was ready to get back to business.
"I told the O-line, 'We're going to score on this first one,'" said Carey, who spearheaded UA's second consecutive 300-plus yard attack on the ground.
During the run, senior quarterback B.J. Denker said, "That's a helluva welcome back."
The Wildcats (2-0) ran for 397 yards and all five of the offense's touchdowns.
Carey said he knew beforehand that his first action would not come until after the opening quarter.
Now, Rodriguez said, he has his "two starting tailbacks."
"It's hard to sit and watch, especially when you know you can play," Rodriguez said.
Arizona was up by 17 through one quarter and by 39 before the end of the half. UNLV (0-2) never threatened in the second half.
Without a Carey attempt in the first quarter, the Wildcats raced out to a double-digit lead on the legs of Denker.
The senior completed all three of his passes on the second drive to set up his 35-yard run for his first score, extending the lead to 10-0 with 8:10 to play in the quarter.
The UA defense produced its fifth consecutive scoreless quarter to open the season. Through three drives, UNLV produced just 32 total yards of offense. The next series was stopped on a forced fumble by nose tackle Tevin Hood and run back to the 9-yard-line on the recovery by linebacker Marquis Flowers.
"Marquis swore to me that he tripped," Rodriguez said.
Denker, who finished with 60 rushing yards, kept the ball twice on the ensuing possession, scoring on a 4-yard run to run the lead to 17-0 with 3:25 left in the first.
With UA leading 24-6 in the second, Carey notched his second score untouched on a 12-yard run with 8:37 to play in the half. Before heading into the locker room, the 5-10, 207-pounder had logged 110 yards on his nine first-half rushing attempts.
"It was too good. It was too good," Carey said of his return.
Later, the defense poured it on as Jake Fischer returned an interception 49 yards to the end zone and Tra'Mayne Bondurant added a 52-yard pick for a score, pushing the UA lead to 45-6 with 1:34 to play before halftime. It was Fischer's first career interception and touchdown of his career.
"I wanted it bad, man. It felt like it took forever to get to the end zone," Fischer said. "I felt like I was going slow."
For Bondurant, the reigning Pac-12 Conference defensive player of the week, it was his third interception and second return for a touchdown this season.
Rebels quarterback Nick Sherry completed just two of his first 10 passes and finished 6-of-22 passing for 111 yards, a touchdown and the two interceptions.
Denker did not look much better through the air, connecting on 8 of 21 throws for 81 yards - his second consecutive effort below 90 yards to start the season.
Earlier in the week, Rodriguez said the passing game needed to pick things up and be more aggressive.
Several of Denker's deep throws sailed long, and he was not pleased with his own personal performance.
"I couldn't execute," Denker said. "I couldn't hit water if I fell out of a boat. Pretty disappointed in that.
"But we took our shots. We were aggressive."
In just the first 23 minutes of action, the Wildcats eclipsed last week's 35-point output. The 45 points in a half was four shy of tying the school record set in 2008 against Idaho.
The 28 second-quarter points was the most on the road in a single quarter in program history.
Arizona tacked on Jake Smith field goals in the third and fourth quarters, as well as a Kylan Butler touchdown to cap the scoring. UNLV running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran 79 yards for a garbage time touchdown in the fourth.
Smith's three field goals and seven extra points set a new single-game UA record for points (16) via kicks.