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Fork Report: ASU wins the Territorial Cup, beats Arizona 52-37

Arizona State players hold the Territorial Cup after an NCAA college football game against Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State won 52-37. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A win on Senior Day, bowl eligibility and more importantly the Territorial Cup is returning to Tempe; in other words, the perfect Saturday afternoon for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

ASU beat Arizona, 52-37, in front of a soldout crowd of 64,855 at Sun Devil Stadium

The 2015 Sun Devils senior class accounted for five of the seven touchdowns scored.

Mike Bercovici passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score.

Meanwhile, Devin Lucien, D.J. Foster and Lloyd Carrington recorded touchdowns in their regular season home-finale.

The Sun Devils led 14-0 after the first quarter and 31-10 at halftime.

Behind third-string quaterback Brandon Dawkins, UA (6-6) made it a game, pulling to within a single possession, 31-23, with 13 unanswered points in the third quarter.

ASU (6-5) answered with a Foster one-yard touchown run and back-to-back pick-6s by Kareem Orr and Carrington, the latter effectively sealing the victory and the all important sixth win for a likely fifth straight post-season appearance.

Lucien was named the Bob Moran Territorial Cup Game MVP after his nine-catch, 190-yard performance.

Dawkins replaced an ineffective Jerrard Randall, who got the start due to the unavailability of Anu Solomon (concussion), and was responsible for 383 yards and three touchdowns. He threw for 305 yards and two scores and rushed for 78 yards and a score.

The Sun Devils have won four of the last six rivalry games against the Wildcats.

THE GOOD

Quite the first quarter for Lucien, who caught four passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. The score, a 59-yard deep ball, made it 14-0 in favor of the Sun Devils at the 1:07 mark. On ASU’s previous drive, Lucien caught a 58-yard pass to set up Richard’s eight-yard touchdown run. The Sun Devils gained a combined 144 yards on back-to-back scoring drives after just 31 total yards (three first downs) on their first three possessions of the game.

Against the Sun Devils defense, here’s UA’s first six possessions: punt, fumble, 3-and-out, 3-and-out, 3-and-out and punt. The Wildcats gained 62 yards on 21 plays with just three first downs in the first quarter. The fumble—by Randall—was caused by Christian Sam and recovered by Laiu Moekiola. It was ASU’s fifth takeaway over their last six defensive possessions, going back to last week’s four turnover performance against Washington.

Before exiting in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury, Richard topped 100 rushing yards for the sixth time this season. He gained 108 yards on 13 carries, including that earlier touchdown. Richard returned in the fourth quarter, but after losing three yards on a first-and-10 play at the ASU 43, he crumpled to the ground and had to be helped off the field. Richard did not return and finished with 105 yards, giving him 925 on the season.

Number-one in the Pac-12 and third nationally in sacks, the Sun Devils added to their total with eight, tying a season-high. Salamo Fiso recorded two-and-a-half, Antonio Longino one-and-half, while D.J. Calhoun, Demetrius Cherry, Viliami Latu and JoJo Wicker each added one. For Calhoun, he leads ASU with six-and-a-half sacks.

THE BAD

Six possessions, that’s how long Randall lasted as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback. After completing just four of his 13 attempts for 35 yards, he was pulled in favor of Dawkins, a redshirt freshman. And Dawkins, perhaps catching the Sun Devils off guard, accounted for 70 yards—34 yards passing, 36 yards rushing—on UA’s one and only offensive first-half scoring drive, which ended with a Casey Skowron 22-yard field goal.

Give the Sun Devils an assist for 10 of the Wildcats first 13 points. In the second quarter, Bercovici’s pass intended for Tim White was intercepted by Cam Denson and returned 21 yards for a pick-6, and at the time, cut the ASU lead in half, 14-7, at the 14:27 mark. Then in the third quarter, Bercovici fumbled, DaVonte Neal recovered, and seven plays later Skowron kicked a 37-yard field goal, making the score 31-13 at the 11:32 mark.

A 21-point halftime lead was reduced to eight after the Wildcats scored 13 unanswered points in the third quarter. Skowron kicked a pair of field goals, his second and third of the game, and Trey Griffey caught a 95-yard touchdown, zig-zagging up-and-down the field for what was UA’s second-longest passing score in school history and the 10th play of 60-plus yards allowed by the Sun Devils defense this season, the most in the nation.

STAT OF THE GAME

109: The Pac-12’s number-two rushing defense (ASU) held the Pac-12’s number-two rushing offense (UA) to 109 yards, 128 yards below its season average

HE SAID IT

“That’s the most important game of the year with the most important group of seniors,” said head coach Todd Graham, who became the first coach in Sun Devil history to lead a team to a bowl game in each of his first four seasons and improved to 3-1 against UA. “I can’t say enough about these seniors. I just love these guys. We did it in decisive fashion.”

NOTED

Orr’s fourth-quarter pick-6 was his fifth interception of the season, setting a Sun Devils freshman record.

Among the Sun Devils’ 400 first-half yards were five plays of 37 yards or more, including a pair of touchdowns.

Jalen Harvey’s second-quarter 41-yard touchdown reception to give the Sun Devils a 28-10 lead was his first-career catch.

Foster’s first-quarter 14-yard catch extended his school and Pac-12 record to 51 straight games with at least one reception.

Matt Haack’s first-quarter punt of 65 yards was a season-best and tied a career-long, which was set last season.

Redshirt senior Solomon Means and sophomore Chad Adams both made their first career starts at safety.

Prior to kickoff, the Sun Devils honored the 18 seniors who were playing in their final regular season home game.

Scouts from 11 NFL teams—Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Titans and Vikings—were in attendance.

UP NEXT

It’s the regular season-finale.

The Sun Devils head to the Bay Area to play Cal on Saturday, November 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

ASU has lost four of five and eight of 10 to the Golden Bears; however, they won the most recent matchup, 27-17, at California Memorial Stadium in 2012.

Overall, ASU is 15-17, including 5-9 on the road, in a series that dates back to 1976.

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