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Sun Devils Win Fifth Straight Territorial Cup, Down the Wildcats, 38-15

Nov 27, 2021

TEMPE, Ariz. -- For the fifth straight season, the Territorial Cup will remain with the Arizona State Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils won the 95th installment of the Territorial Cup Game between against their in-state rival Arizona Wildcats, 38-15, in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium.

Arizona trailed by two scores early in the fourth quarter and was marching in Sun Devil territory. Ball on the 22-yard line, Jack Jones jumped the route of the Arizona receiver and intercepted Will Plummer's throw before returning it for a 87-yard score, extending the Sun Devils' lead to a game-high 23 points and effectively slamming the door on a potential Wildcat comeback. (All 21 of the Sun Devil pick-sixes since 2012 can be found here.)

The Sun Devils' five-straight victories mark the longest streak in the series since Arizona won five in a row from 1982-86 and the most for ASU against the Wildcats since winning nine straight from 1965-73. It also clinched the program's first eight-win season of the Herm Edwards era.

The offense clicked when it mattered most and the defense bent but never broke, holding the Wildcats to a trio of field goals in critical red zone moments and forcing a pair of huge turnovers.

Jayden Daniels and Rachaad White combined for 184 of the team's 228 rushing yards, as each added a touchdown. With his second quarter score, White moved into a tie for 6th in ASU single season history with 15 total touchdowns. He also eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on ASU's final drive of the game 

Daniels was effective through the air, as well. He connected on 10 of 14 attempted passes for 86 yards and two touchdown passes, both of which were hauled in by Ricky Pearsall, who tallied 52 receiving yards on five catches.

Despite throwing for 346 passing yards, the Wildcats' running game was virtually nonexistent on Saturday afternoon. They toted the rock 34 times for 50 yards for a paltry average of 1.5 yards per carry.

Both schools traded punches in the first 30 minutes of play. But the Sun Devils paced the Wildcats in the second half, outscoring them in the final two frames, 24-6. It started early in the third quarter when Daniels, avoiding pressure and scrambling outside of the pocket, found a seam and slipped upfield for a 48-yard touchdown run that gave the Sun Devils a 21-9 lead.

The Wildcats answered shortly after. A five-yard touchdown pass from Plummer to Michael Wiley pulled them within six, and it was all made possible by an acrobatic conversion on 4th & 2 from Jamarye Joiner that kept the possession alive.

The Sun Devils rattled off 17 unanswered points then to bury the Wildcats. Daniels found Ricky Pearsall for his second score of the game. Then, a holding call by the Wildcats in their own end zone netted a safety call and two points for the Sun Devils before Jones' exclamation point of a pick-six sealed it.

With the win, ASU has won four straight Territorial Cups in Tempe. The last Wildcat victory at Sun Devil Stadium came in 2011.

The Sun Devils' dominant second half doesn't tell the entire story of this one.

It was the Wildcats who jumped out to an early first quarter lead, when Tyler Loop chipped in a field goal from 32 yards. The Sun Devils answered moments later when Jayden Daniels found Ricky Pearsall, who scampered into the end zone for a 14-yard score and a 7-3 lead.

The Sun Devils went into the half with a slim 14-9 lead. Arizona knocked in a trio of field goals and ASU found the end zone for the second time of the half with White's 1-yard plunge for the score. 

It was Jones who helped set up White's short touchdown run. Jones got free on a blitz and forced Plummer, who was under duress and looking to make a play on the run, to fumble. Tyler Johnson nearly scooped and scored, but the Sun Devils settled for a recovery on the Arizona one-yard line.

On the ensuing play, White leaped over the pile for the score.

The Wildcats, who dominated the time of possession in the first half, were limited to just one rushing yard after the first two quarters of play.

The Sun Devils, who are 9-3 over the Wildcats in their last 12 meetings, will now turn their attention to bowl season following the conclusion of the regular season.