Led by a second half outburst and a strong performance on the ground, Arizona State (7-5) defeated Arizona (4-8) 24-14 in Saturday night’s Territorial Cup.
After a couple faltered drives and a missed Arizona field goal to start the game, both teams were knotted at zero after the first 15 minutes of play. Both offenses had promising drives, but they were stalled.
Then on a fourth and one in their own territory in the second quarter, Arizona was stuffed, giving ASU good field position and the ball with half a field to play with.
Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels proceeded to find senior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for 25 yards, and that set up a 33-yard field goal for redshirt sophomore kicker Cristian Zendejas, who split the uprights for the first points of the game. It made things 3-0 ASU.
However, with 7:04 remaining in the first half, Arizona put up a response. Senior quarterback Khalil Tate found wideout Jamarye Joiner on a dart over the middle, and he coasted into the end zone to make things 7-3 Wildcats.
The 48-yard strike took six plays, and ate up 83 yards. Arizona then had another promising drive with just under two minutes remaining as they got into the red zone.
But, it would be disrupted by a Tate interception to ASU junior defensive back Jack Jones. It was his second straight game with a pick, and he wasn’t done on the night.
The first interception led to an ASU scoring drive just before the half, as Zendejas hit his second field goal to make things 7-6.
Coming out of the locker room, ASU threw the next punch. The offense put together an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took up five minutes and 30 seconds, and there was not a single pass. It was capped off by a six-yard touchdown run from junior running back Eno Benjamin. That made the score 13-7.
Then on the ensuing Arizona drive, Tate threw his second pick to Jones on a broken route, and it gave the Sun Devils the ball right back.
The ASU offense couldn’t take advantage, but the defense would make another play. Sophomore linebacker Merlin Robertson picked off Tate’s third interception.
Two plays after the pick, Benjamin surpassed 1,000 yards on the season, and then he strolled in from one yard out to make the score 19-7. Daniels added a two-point conversion on a QB keeper, and that put things at 21-7 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats next drive got down in the red zone, but it once again ended with no points, as they missed their second field goal of the evening.
ASU got the ball back, and then put up three points of its own. Zendejas hit a 26-yarder to make the score 24-7 with just over seven minutes remaining.
Arizona added another Joyner touchdown, but it would be too little, too late. Benjamin iced things out on the ground, and the cup stayed in Tempe with a 24-14 final.