ASU Keeps the Cup, Beats Arizona 58-21
By Jourdan Rodrigue
Digital Communications Intern
The Duel in the Desert is more than just a football game.
This year, No. 12 Arizona State’s 58-21 victory over Arizona means they not only finished their regular season undefeated at home, they’ll also host No. 8 Stanford in Tempe for next week’s Pac-12 Championship game on Dec. 7 at 5:45 p.m. MT.
Sun Devil running back D.J. Foster collected a career-high 124 rushing yards and scored a pair of two touchdowns en route to earning Bob Moran Game MVP honors as ASU scored more than 50 points for the sixth time this season. ASU finished the season with the best conference record in the Pac-12 at 8-1 and notched its first 10-win season since 2007, and the 12th 10-win season in school history.
ASU struck first as they quickly drove downfield. Freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez made his 16th straight field goal of the season. And after a 3-and-out shutdown of Arizona’s offense (including a sack and a tackle-for-loss by defensive tackle Carl Bradford on Arizona quarterback BJ Denker and a delay-of-game penalty against the Wildcats), Gonzalez booted three more points on the board, tying the school record for consecutive field goals made with 17.
After only two minutes, Arizona’s offense was forced to punt once more. ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly proved he had new offensive weapons in his arsenal with a camera-fooling fake handoff to Foster, which he then pulled back to lob to wide-open tight end Darwin Rogers for a touchdown—which is a new school record for Kelly for “points-responsible-for in a season” with 204.
The second quarter continued in similar high-octane fashion. ASU scored immediately with a 29-yard carry up the sideline and then a 14-yard touchdown run from Foster. Gonzalez’s PAT upped the score to 20-0, but the Devils weren’t done. A high-flying interception by safety Alden Darby led to another Sun Devil touchdown drive, this time from two big catches by wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21 yards) and big-blocker-turned-target tight end Chris Coyle (9 yards), and a 1-yard touchdown run from breakout bulldozer De’Marieya Nelson (his first of the season). Another PAT from Gonzalez boosted the score to 27-0 with 8:04 still left in the first half.
Arizona was able to put seven points up before the end of the half with about a half-yard run from Denker. But ASU answered back with the record-breaking field goal from Gonzalez - his 18th consecutive - to increase the Sun Devils’ score, 30-7.
The second half began with a quick touchdown from Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey that shifted the score, 30-14. But a crucial momentum-changing pick-six by Sun Devil free safety Damarious Randall followed by an Arizona 3-and-out allowed the Sun Devils to stay on top.
Arizona recovered a fumble by Denker in the end zone, which gave the Wildcats another touchdown before the third quarter was over. However, their momentum was swiftly plugged by a 61-yard torpedo from Kelly to Strong for another six points. On the following kick return, Nelson forced and recovered a fumble that ended the third quarter in the Devils’ favor, 44-21.
Foster scored again immediately to begin the fourth quarter and another interception, this time by corner Osahon Irabor, further sealed the victory.
By the end of the fourth quarter, ASU had scored 58 points to Arizona’s 21. Kelly went 13-for-25 and had two TDs. Irabor, Darby, and Randall had an interception apiece and Bradford had four tackles for loss.
And as the clock ticked out its final seconds and the gold-clad crowd screamed their approval, it was clearer than ever that this Territorial Cup wasn’t just a game.
It was slowly and methodically painting over in gold the felonious blue-and-red splashes on Hayden Butte’s A. It’s the silver glint of the Territorial Cup in its case within the ASU Athletics trophy hall. It’s been Kush and Plummer and Tillman and Burfict and Graham and Kelly and Sutton and Coyle. It’s blocked kicks in Tucson and a wave of roaring, pulsating gold in Tempe. It’s 7-0 at home. And this year, it’s hosting the Pac-12 Championship Game.
It wasn’t just a game; it was the pride of an entire school and its alumni all held in a little silver cup—and it’s staying in Tempe for another year.
Pac-12 Football Championship Tickets
General Public: Tickets are available through the Arizona State Ticket Office (www.thesundevils.com) ticket office or call 480-727-000. The ticket office will be open for extended hours today (Sunday, December 1) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. as well.
ASU students: Tickets will go on sale on Sunday, Dec. 1, 9 am-5 pm at the Sun Devil Stadium ticket office.