For the fourth straight year, the visiting team ventured out of town, to the stadium of its in-state rival, and brought back the Territorial Cup last season, as Arizona State overcame a fourth quarter deficit in Tucson to beat Arizona 41-34.
In their first year at the helm of their new programs, coach Todd Graham of Arizona State and Rich Rodriguez of Arizona faced off, with the Wildcats jumping out to a 27-17 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Sophomore Ka’Deem Carey led the surge, rushing for 172 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. And, on senior night, senior Daniel Jenkins got 21 carries of his own, picking up 78 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Matt Scott, meanwhile, completed just 19 of his 39 passing attempts. Though managing three touchdowns and 230 yards passing, the senior turned the ball over four times — thrice via the interception and once on a fourth-quarter fumble.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the mistakes — both offensively and defensively — seemed to mount in the fourth quarter, when Marion Grice and the Sun Devils came roaring back, scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Grice ultimately grabbed 156 yards on the ground, scoring three touchdowns and adding a 52-yard dash on the night.
Kicker Jon Mora, meanwhile, added a pair of second half field goals to help the cause of Graham and the Devils, while quarterback Taylor Kelly spread the ball around the field, ultimately finding eight different receivers and winning the turnover battle.
Scott’s turnover problems aside, perhaps the single biggest momentum changer of the game came with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter when ASU managed to block a punt deep in the Arizona territory, taking over possession at the Wildcats’ 8-yard line.
One play later, they regained the lead on a Cameron Marshall touchdown, going up 34-27.
They padded the lead on a Michael Eubank goal line run, to go up 41-27 before giving up another touchdown to Arizona, but to no avail for the Wildcats.
All in all, the teams were fairly evenly matched, with Arizona State getting 460 total yards and Arizona finishing with 522. They came within 90 seconds of each other in time of possession, with the Wildcats having the advantage and they were only separated by two rushing attempts.
But the turnover margin loomed large.
Although ASU lost two fumbles, the Wildcats’ four turnovers — and blocked punt — made the difference.