“I’m going to get you one, Coach.”
That’s what D.J. Taylor told Herm Edwards following Arizona State’s crushing home loss to UCLA less than a week ago.
During the second quarter of that game, Taylor appeared on the verge of breaking loose but was slide-tackled by the Bruins kicker at ASU’s 45-yard line. It was clear he had the extra gear.
And on the first play of the 94th Territorial Cup, Taylor made good on his promise.
Fielding the ball around five yards deep into the back right corner of his end zone, ASU’s return specialist made one cut at the four-yard line and sprinted down the Wildcats’ motionless sideline.
He successfully evaded the ill-fated lunge by Arizona kicker Lucas Havrisik, ensuring there would be no tripping penalty to stop him this time. Only 13 seconds had ticked off the clock when Taylor coasted in for the score.
“That was the quickest ‘no’ to ‘go’ I’ve ever seen,” co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce said.
It was the spark the Sun Devils needed as Arizona State (1-2, 1-2 Pac-12) went on to crush Arizona (0-5, 0-5) 70-7 on Friday.
After Taylor’s electric return, the touchdowns kept flowing. Chip Trayanum cashed in Arizona’s first fumble of the night from the 4-yard line to continue the scoring.
After a turnover on downs with favorable field position, Jayden Daniels spun away from Arizona’s defense, giving a quick look over his shoulder as the defenders sprawled out on the field before waltzing into the end zone.
Soon, ASU would put the Wildcats in its rearview mirror.
Edwards caught some of the players smiling in the first quarter. He told them to stop, reminding them of the team’s stunning fourth-quarter loss to USC earlier in the season.
“This was the hardest I’ve ever coached on the sideline since I’ve been here when we had that lead,” Edwards said, “and it was really telling players, ‘Do not get comfortable. We have to finish the game, it’s not over.’”
The message was clear: don’t let up.
The Sun Devils did not. All of the team’s frustration was let out against their bitter rivals to keep the Cup away from its in-state rivals for the fourth year in a row.
Daniels and Co. tormented their opponents relentlessly for 10 touchdowns, knowing that Friday evening’s win would be the only victory the team will likely enjoy in 2020.
ASU offensive coordinator Zak Hill was overhead by ESPN sideline reporter Stormy Buonantony saying he wanted to ‘demoralize’ Arizona.
“We were trying to set a tone physically,” Hill said on the comment. “That was a mindset we wanted the guys to have.”
Arizona cracked under the pressure. The Wildcats gave away the ball seven times and only managed to drive to the red zone twice.
A quarterback change toward the end of the second quarter provided some life in the form of a 20-yard rushing touchdown from Michael Wiley, but otherwise, it was an embarrassing performance for Arizona on its home turf.
Daniels threw for 239 passing yards and two touchdowns on just 11 attempts. On those two scores through the air, both wide receiver Ricky Pearsall and tight end Curtis Hodges easily beat their coverages and were wide open.
ASU’s running backs remained productive, although another face was present for the first time this season. Freshman Daniyel Ngata was mixed in alongside Rachaad White and Trayanum.
Ngata scored his first career touchdown on just his third collegiate rushing attempt. The three-pronged rushing attack would combine for 234 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. White would take home the Bob Moran MVP honors for his individual 133 yards and a hat trick.
However, one of the most impactful members of the backfield was Jackson He, who became the first Chinese-born player in FBS history to score a touchdown with a second-effort rush on the 1-yard line for ASU’s final score of the game.
He is originally from Shaoguan, China, and walked on to the Sun Devils in 2019. His name is printed using Mandarin characters on the back of his uniform.
“It’s crazy, all the support from my teammates and all the love from everybody on the team,” He said.
“I am the first one but I am not the last one and there are going to be more Chinese stepping up to this stage and scoring.”
Once He finished his media press conference, the redshirt junior pointed to his white T-Shirt and explained that the message translated to “everything is possible.”
After witnessing the historic 70-7 beatdown, Sun Devils fans would certainly agree.