The Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4) defeated their arch rival Arizona (5-7, 4-5) 41-40 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
ASU trailed by 19 points entering the final quarter and put up 20 unanswered to win the Territorial Cup for back-to-back seasons.
ASU marched back down the field as Wilkins used his leg to make plays. The Sun Devils settled for a 27-yard field goal from Brandon Ruiz to bring the deficit down to 40-24.
Trailing by 16, Arizona State began the comeback by getting in the end zone. Wilkins carried the ball 11 yards and found junior tight end Tommy Hudson open for the two-point conversion. Arizona’s lead was reduced to 40-32.
The Sun Devil defense finally made a big play. Freshman safety Aashari Crosswell picked off a Tate pass and returned it to the Wildcat 22 yard line.
ASU fans in the stadium were elated, the comeback was still within reach.
The Arizona State offense weren’t able to move the ball far, but they got a 39-yard field goal from Ruiz to make it a 40-35 game with 3:33 left in the final quarter.
Tate then botched a handoff to Taylor that was recovered by the Sun Devils. Benjamin then ran for a 22-yard touchdown and a 41-40 Sun Devil lead. ASU fell short on the two-point conversion.
The impossible had happened.
Arizona regained possession and marched down the field getting into field goal range. Pollack’s attempt from 45 yards was no good.
The Sun Devils win knocked Arizona out of bowl eligibility.
Arizona put the first points on the board of the day. Taking a 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal from Pollack.
The Sun Devils couldn’t get anything going on their second drive either. As Manny Wilkins was given very little time to throw and the offense was a quick three-and-out.
Arizona got into the end zone for a commanding 10-0 lead when Tate found senior wide receiver Tony Ellison for the 28-yard touchdown. The Wildcats dominated ASU’s defense early, as the Sun Devils offered little resistance.
ASU’s offense finally broke through as Wilkins hit junior Brandon Aiyuk for a 51-yard touchdown reception getting the Sun Devils back in the contest.
Each teams traded scoreless possessions, before senior Shun Brown had a nice punt return that set up a 23-yard field goal from Pollack giving the Wildcats a 13-7 lead.
The Wildcats put themselves in the driver’s seat as Tate found Poindexter for a 23-yard touchdown reception and a 19-7 lead. Arizona attempted to go for two, but were unable to convert. Freshman linebacker Merlin Robertson just missed a sack against Tate leading him to scramble and find the 6’5” Poindexter over sophomore corner Kobe Williams.
Arizona State got a little closer just before halftime as Eno Benjamin ran in from 10 yards out cutting the score to 19-14 Arizona.
UA drove down the field and Pollack nailed a 36-yard field goal giving the Wildcats a 22-14 halftime lead.
ASU forced an Arizona three-and-out after halftime, but shot themselves in the foot after regaining possession.
Junior right guard Steven Miller was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and then Arizona’s junior defensive tackle PJ Johnson brought down Benjamin in the Arizona end zone for a safety.
Arizona Stadium was elated as the Wildcats snatched a 24-14 lead early in the second half. Pollack nailed a 40-yard field goal, his fourth of the day extending the UA advantage to 27-14.
ASU clawed back a little closer when Benjamin carried from 14 yards away getting the Sun Devils back in the game trailing 27-21. The drive was set up by a 37-yard completion from Wilkins to N’Keal Harry, who was quiet most of the first half.
Once again however, the Sun Devils couldn’t stop U of A. Sophomore running back Gary Brightwell scored on the ground from 35 yards away extending the Wildcats lead to 33-21, as Arizona once again failed a two-point conversion play.
The Wildcats extended their lead even more as Tate hit Ellison for an eight-yard touchdown and the 40-21 lead late in the 3rd quarter.
This loss will haunt Arizona, as they had a massive lead and appeared to be cruising to a bowl game.
However in Tempe, this comeback will be remembered fondly in Sun Devil history.