Arizona State rallies back to defeat Arizona in Territorial Cup

NCAA Football 2017 Battle during Arizona Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devils Stadium Stadium on November 25 in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Eric D. Townsend / fi360 News)
Arizona State offensive celebrating during the NCAA Football 2017 Battle during Arizona Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devils Stadium Stadium on November 25 in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Eric D. Townsend / fi360 News)

Tempe, AZ- On Saturday, in the 91st Territorial Cup, Arizona State secured a 42-30 victory over rival Arizona, after scoring 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to overcome an early 14-point deficit.

Tate did not start the second half for the Wildcats after suffering an injury in the last possession of the second quarter and the Sun Devils did damage in his absence.

The game got interesting after Wildcats’ backup quarterback Brandon Dawkins faked a handoff and advanced up the field untouched for a 50-yard rushing touchdown. But this was not enough, as the Sun Devils scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to increase the lead by 12-points.

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate (14) game action of the NCAA Football 2017 Battle Arizona Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devils Stadium Stadium on November 25 in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Eric D. Townsend / fi360 News)

“We started out slow but we knew they had to play us for 60 minutes” said quarterback Manny Wilkins, “We got a lot of momentum coming out of the half and that was the turning point in the game.”

The Sun Devils struggled early, failing to get anything done on its first two possessions, opening the doors for the Wildcats to take control.

In the Wildcats first two possessions they drove 123-yards in 16 plays, capping both possessions with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The first, by running back Zach Green, followed by a Khalil Tate dash in from the 1-yard line to give Arizona a 14-0 lead.

“They are a very good football team, very well coached and they had a great plan defensively”, said coach Todd Graham, “We only had 30-yards rushing at halftime, so they were doing some really good stuff.”

 Curtis Hodges began the rally by blocking a poorly snap punt attempt by the Wildcats, giving the Sun Devils possessions at the Arizona 5-yard line. In just two plays ASU was within 3-points after Demario Richard forced his way into the end zone with a 2-yard rushing touchdown, making the score 24-21.

ASU Line getting a big push during the NCAA Football 2017 Battle during Arizona Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devils Stadium Stadium on November 25 in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Eric D. Townsend / fi360 News)

Richard is now the program’s fifth career 3,000-yard rusher in program history. Also, tonight he won the Bob Moran MVP award.

“Personally, I want to say thank you to D. Rich (Richard), for bringing the passion he brings everyday, this win meant a lot to me and it’s awesome to get this for these seniors because they’ve put in so much time and we’ve been through it together”, said Wilkins.

The Sun Devils took their first lead of the game after Wilkins delivered a 5-yard pass to the corner of end zone to N’Keal Harry who made a fantastic catch over a Wildcat defender for a touchdown. Giving ASU a 28-24 lead.

 The Sun Devil defense didn’t give Arizona a chance to get down the field, as the they held the score to 42-30, for the remainder of the game to win the Territorial Cup.

“‘I’m really proud of our seniors; what a team effort”, said Graham, “Just really proud of our guys to finish up like they did, and to get that cup back where it belongs.”

Rich Rod is fired up on sideline during the NCAA Football 2017 Battle during Arizona Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devils Stadium Stadium on November 25 in Tempe, AZ. (Photo by Eric D. Townsend / fi360 News)