Nic Grigsby ran for 118 yards and a touchdown, Alex Zendejas Jr. matched a school record with four field goals and Arizona defeated Central Michigan 19-6 on Saturday night in a game delayed 43 minutes by lightning.
Ending weeks of mystery over Willie Tuitama's successor, Arizona coach Mike Stoops started Matt Scott at quarterback ahead of fellow sophomore Nick Foles.
Stoops said last week that he planned to play both quarterbacks in the opener, but Foles didn't take a snap.
After a slow start, Scott completed 19-of-30 passes for 202 yards, and he was intercepted once. Scott also rushed for 83 yards on nine carries.
Scott, who saw action as Tuitama's backup last season, may improve with seasoning. But with Arizona's offense sputtering, the Wildcats needed their defense to take control, and it did.
The Wildcats neutralized Central Michigan senior quarterback Dan LeFevour, one of the most prolific passers in Mid-American Conference history. He ran for a touchdown but finished with 108 passing yards, his third-fewest in 40 career games.
Central Michigan didn't make a first down until 1:09 to go in the first half. By that time, by that time Arizona led 13-0 on a 3-yard run by Grigsby and two field goals by Zendejas, the nephew of Max Zendejas, Arizona's all-time scoring leader.
Zendejas later missed a 43-yard field goal but converted on another 37-yarder to put the Wildcats ahead 16-0 late in the third quarter. Zendejas tied the school record _ shared by four kickers, including his uncle _ with a 35-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.
The opener for both schools was scheduled to begin at 7:07 p.m., but as frequent bursts lit up the sky to the southeast and northeast, Arizona officials announced that the contest would be delayed.
"There has been lightning in the area. Please exit the stadium seating area and find cover," said a message on the end-zone scoreboard.
Fans in many sections scattered, but the student section remained packed during the delay.
Several Arizona games have been delayed by weather. The most recent was on Aug. 30, 2008, when lightning delayed the Idaho-Arizona game 64 minutes.
Once the storm clouds blew away, weather wasn't a factor on a breezy 84-degree night in the desert.
The defense asserted itself on Central Michigan's first possession, when linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka picked off a deflected pass at the Chippewas' 31-yard line.
The Wildcats harried LeFevour throughout the game. He completed 18-of-31 passes and was intercepted once.
LeFevour's highlight came when he ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 12:21 to go in the game, cutting Central Michigan's deficit to 16-6. But the Chippewas botched the 2-point conversion when LeFevour fumbled the snap in the shotgun.