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ASU football defeats UA for fifth straight Territorial Cup win after slow first half

ASU won its fifth straight Territorial Cup game in a row by a score of 38-15 on Saturday afternoon

Territorial Cup Header JackJones.jpeg

ASU graduate student defensive back Jack Jones (0) celebrates his pick-six against the University of Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. ASU won 38-15.

ASU Football defeated UA 38-15 on Saturday afternoon, winning its fifth straight Territorial Cup.

ASU got off to a slow start, winning by just five points at halftime after three UA field goals. Both teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter before the Sun Devils pulled away with 17 unanswered points.

The team’s last points came on a pick-six from graduate student defensive back Jack Jones

Jones, who won the Bob Moran Territorial Cup MVP award, had six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. Head coach Herm Edwards said Jones’ pick-six was the defining moment of the game.

2021 Territorial Cup Game

“It was a great play,” Edwards said. “It really turned the game around, in my opinion. He had a great game.”

At the conclusion of the pick-six, Jones tossed the ball into the stands and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was one of ASU’s ten penalties in the game. 

“When you throw the ball into the stands in the NFL, that costs you money,” he said. “(Right now) he doesn’t have any money; so stop doing that.

The Sun Devils struggled to throw the ball and were out-gained 346-86 in passing yards. The 346 passing yards by UA freshman quarterback Will Plummer were the most in the history of the Territorial Cup by a Wildcat quarterback.

The success of the ASU run game is what kept its offense running smoothly. For the sixth time this season, the Sun Devils ran for 200 or more yards. 

Even when ASU had trouble in the passing game, the legs of junior quarterback Jayden Daniels extended plays for positive yards. 

The Sun Devils' first touchdown in the second half came on a designed passing play, that Daniels admitted was a broken play.

“It was actually a broken play,” Daniels said. “Rachaad (White) ran the wrong route. I was trying to throw the ball to Ricky but Rachaad was (out of place). I made someone miss and the rest was history. I wasn’t going to let them tackle me. I had to go score and that’s what I did.”

For the first time since Sept. 25 vs. Colorado and for just the second time all season, the Sun Devils had zero turnovers.

Despite having double-digit penalties in a game for the fifth time this season, it’s just the third time that ASU has had fewer penalties than its opponent. Edwards added that 45% of the team’s penalties have been before the snap.

“The thing I look at is that 45% of our penalties are non-competitive penalties,” he said. “False starts, offsides, delay of games … Those are 45% of our penalties. That’s not playing competitive football.”

UA made its mark on the field before the game, spiking the Sparky logo at midfield and the Sun Devils font in the red zone. The work of groundskeeper Brian Johnson — who is retiring after 236 home games — was distastefully destroyed.

But the result on the field told a much different story and for the first time since 1969, ASU football has won five straight games over Arizona. 

The Wildcats exited Sun Devil Stadium with a loss in 23 of its last 24 games. The marks they left on Sparky were the only marks the team left on the field — a field they haven’t won on since 2011.

“The little brothers can take a nice little two-and-a-half-hour drive back to the toilet bowl down here,” graduate student defensive end Tyler Johnson said of UA.

Arizona State’s 38 points today are more than Arizona has scored in its previous three Territorial Cup games.

“When you first become head coach here, it’s amazing how many people talk about this game,” Edwards said. “We had different former players come and talk to the team during the week and talk about what the rivalry means to them.”

With the win, ASU has won at least eight regular season games for the first time since 2014 and the first time in Edwards' tenure as head coach.

The Sun Devils will play in a bowl game for the ninth time since 2011. The date and location of the bowl game have yet to be determined.

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Sean Lynch

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