Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Football blows late lead, falls to UA in Territorial Cup

ASU senior wide receiver Mike Willie lays face down on the field after the Sun Devils’ loss to UA on Saturday. ASU had a chance to win with a last-minute drive, but were unable to score with two straight incompletions in the last nine seconds. (Photo by Elijah Grasser)
ASU senior wide receiver Mike Willie lays face down on the field after the Sun Devils’ loss to UA on Saturday. ASU had a chance to win with a last-minute drive, but were unable to score with two straight incompletions in the last nine seconds. (Photo by Elijah Grasser)

Check out more photos from Saturday's game against U of A in this slideshow. OR Were you in the student section for the game? See if The State Press caught you cheering on the Sun Devils in this slideshow.

This season was supposed to be special in Tempe. A renaissance of sorts for a consistently underachieving program loaded with returning talent.

But somehow through all the on-paper victories, the ASU football team found itself lying face down on its own field Saturday as the clock hit triple zeroes.

No thoughts, no explanations, just disbelief.

Trailing by four after blowing a 10 point fourth quarter lead, the Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) failed to covert on two last-second passes from 15 yards out of the endzone and fell to UA in the Territorial Cup 31-27 in front of a sold out Sun Devil Stadium.

In the ensuing moments after the final ball hit the turf, a spectrum of reactions swept over ASU. Some Sun Devils dropped to their knees in sadness while others slammed equipment to the ground in anger. The common thread was defeat.

“No words can explain it,” ASU junior quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “Every  individual needs to truly look in the mirror and ask himself if he did everything he could during the week to prepare himself to win.”

Saturday was the third straight week the Sun Devils lost as favorites. The team fell to UCLA and Washington State prior.

“We hit a point in the season where we thought we arrived and we lost hunger,” ASU redshirt senior defensive tackle Bo Moos said. “There’s something in the chemistry that hasn’t been right and I can’t put my finger on what it is.”

The Sun Devils committed eight penalties for 92 yards Saturday to go along with three turnovers in UA territory.

“When you have a 10 point lead, you should be able to hold that,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “We felt like we had it. Everything that happened was disheartening. Probably the worst loss I’ve had in a long time.”

10 times the ASU offense worked in UA territory, but in seven of those occasions it either turned the ball over, settled for a field goal or the clock ran out.

“What it comes down to at the end of the day is as a quarterback, it’s my job to find a way to get our offense into the endzone,” Osweiler said.  “And I didn’t do that tonight. That’s the difference in the game, we had plenty of opportunities.”

The Sun Devil quarterback finished Saturday 36-of-65 for 487 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. ASU junior running back Cameron Marshall ran for 52 yards and two touchdowns while senior wide receiver Gerell Robinson exploded for 11 catches and 199 yards, a Territorial Cup record.

The Wildcats (3-8, 2-7 Pac-12) won the rivalry game for the third time in four years. UA quarterback Nick Foles earned the Bob Moran Player of the Game Award despite getting injured in the fourth quarter.

Even with loss, the Sun Devils can still clinch a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 title game next week. They need to defeat California, UCLA to lose to Southern California and Utah to win against Colorado.

“Yeah, I’m getting tired of all that,” Erickson said. “That’s a bad locker room down there.”

UA got off to its fast start with a one yard touchdown run from senior running back Keola Antolin after ASU sophomore cornerback Osahon Irabor committed a pass interference penalty in the endzone. On the Sun Devils’ next drive, an Osweiler interception ended ASU’s drive in Wildcat territory. UA cashed in eight plays later with a freshman running back Ka’Deem Carey 11 yard touchdown reception to give the Wildcats their 14-0 lead.

Three and a half minutes later, Marshall put the Sun Devils on the board with a two yard scoring run. Robinson tied the game five minutes into the second quarter on an 11 yard touchdown reception from Osweiler. After UA missed its second field goal of the first half, ASU took its first lead of the night on a 22 yard Marshall scoring run.

The Wildcats bounced back with a late three points with two seconds remaining in the first half off a 43 yard senior kicker John Bonano field goal. On the play before, ASU sophomore defensive end Davon Coleman committed a roughing the passer penalty to get UA into scoring range.

Still leading 21-17 in the third quarter, the Sun Devil defense forced a UA punt in its own territory and ASU junior wide receiver Jamal Miles returned the ball 44 yards to set up an ASU redshirt freshman kicker Alex Garoutte 23 yard field goal.

After the two teams exchanged field position for much of the third quarter, a Robinson 47 yard reception led to a second Garoutte field goal, this time from 27 yards out to give ASU a 27-17 advantage early in the fourth.

UA responded on its ensuing possession with a seven play, 94 yard touchdown drive capped off by a multiple tackle-breaking 33 yard reception by senior wide receiver Gino Crump to get the Wildcats to within three points of ASU.

The Sun Devils took their next drive into UA territory but stalled at the Wildcat 39. ASU elected to go for it on fourth-and-three instead of punting but an Osweiler incomplete pass gave UA the ball back. Seven plays later, on a third-and-four, senior quarterback Bryson Beirne hit senior wide receiver Juron Criner for a short gain that turned into a 23 yard go-ahead touchdown catch and run after ASU missed its chance to tackle him short of the first down.

“A lot of times, you’re in pursuit and you see people with tackles that should be made and you might slow down a bit,” Moos said. “Then the next thing you know he’s off in the endzone when if you would’ve kept running, you could’ve made the play. It happened several times tonight.”

With just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils drove to the UA 23 yard line, but Osweiler’s second interception of the night cost ASU a chance to take the lead.

After the Sun Devil defense stopped the Wildcats’ next possession, ASU took over with one final chance at its own 20 yard line and one minute and 13 seconds remaining. The Sun Devils marched down the field and were set up at the 15 yard line after Marshall gained 20 yards on a dump pass the previous play. But with nine seconds left, Osweiler threw two straight incompletions into the endzone to end the game.

Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.

Subscribe to Pressing Matters



This website uses cookies to make your experience better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.