ASU Football’s Second Half Resurgence Stifles Arizona for the Territorial Cup Victory
By Harley Yearout // Football Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
Tempe, Ariz. The Arizona State Sun Devils reclaimed the Territorial Cup and secured second place in the Pac-12 South division as they defeated the University of Arizona by a score of 42-30 on Saturday night in Tempe.
“We exceeded expectations,” senior running back Demario Richard said while reflecting on his final season, which saw ASU win seven games despite only being picked to win three.
“We should’ve won more,” redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins added.
For head coach Todd Graham, this game meant a fourth win over rival Arizona during his tenure at Arizona State.
“There is nothing like winning this game,” Graham said.
The two teams came into the game tied for second-place in the Pac-12, and the win for ASU helped the team to flip in the season standings after finishing second to last a season ago.
“He’s changed the program around,” Richard said of Todd Graham.
“I wouldn’t hire nobody else,” he later said.
“He’s helped me grow as a leader of this football team,” Wilkins added about Graham too.
Graham’s status is uncertain for next season, but he had a simple answer when asked if he felt the program was on the right track: “Yes, I do.”
In his final home game, Richard gave the fans at Sun Devil Stadium a show.
The senior racked up 165 yards and 2 touchdowns and became ASU’s fifth 3,000-yard rusher in program history.
Wilkins would finish with 163 yards passing and three touchdowns and threw one interception.
Two of those touchdowns went to sophomore wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who finished with 43 yards on 4 catches.
“This one meant a lot for me, for these seniors,” Wilkins said.
The Sun Devil defense caught a break, as Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate did not start the second half due to a shoulder injury and only played in one series to finish the game.
Brandon Dawkins was the quarterback for Arizona for most of the second half, and it took a few series for him to settle in.
“He’s an effective quarterback,” cornerback Chad Adams said of Dawkins.
“He can run just like Tate,” he said.
“Both those guys can really run,” Graham said of the two Wildcat quarterbacks.
Tate finished with 28 rushing yards and he did add a 1-yard touchdown run before his exit.
The defense took advantage of Tate’s absence, forcing the Wildcats to go just 1 for 8 on third down conversions in the second half.
Dawkins finished 4 for 8 passing with an interception, but added a 50-yard touchdown run.
That would be the lone score for the Wildcats in the second half, as ASU outscored Arizona 28-6 in the second half.
The Wildcats struggled on special teams as well, as a blocked punt set up 1-yard Richard touchdown run to open the second half.
From then on, it was all Arizona State as they outgained the Wildcats 223-188 and went 7 for 8 on third downs in the final half.
The Sun Devils now turn their attention to their bowl game selection as Arizona State secured bowl eligibility last weekend with the win over Oregon State.
And after all the speculation and predictions, the Sun Devils will take at minimum a 7-6 record into the offseason, a far cry from last season’s 5-7 finish.
Harley Yearout is a reporter for Blaze Sports. You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Harley on Twitter @HarleyYearout