NCAA: The Duel in the Desert Recap
The Duel in the Desert for the Territorial Cup this past Saturday night had an added mix of buildup a week before the game. Both teams were coming off their biggest wins of the year. Arizona over Oregon and Arizona State over UCLA, but this past Saturday the Arizona State Sun Devils’ turned the Territorial Cup show-down into a runaway with a 58-21 victory over Arizona.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 27-0 lead before the Wildcats were able to score their first points and ended up controlling all aspects of the football game.
The Sun Devil offense suffered no set-backs in moving the ball without their leading scorer and rusher, Marion Grice (who sat out due to an injury). They spread their offense around to score the second-most points in Territorial Cup history and win their seventh straight game overall.
DJ Foster, who earned the Bob Moran Territorial Cup MVP honors, had 124-yards rushing with two touchdowns and also had 26 yards receiving. Tight end De’Marieya Nelson helped pick up the slack in the backfield by playing a power back feature and he scored two touchdowns on the ground in short yardage situations. He also played superb on special teams, forcing and recovering a fumble late in the third quarter.
Taylor Kelly complimented the ground game, throwing for 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jaelen Strong made the most of his four receptions on the evening, finishing with 142 yards, including a 61yard touchdown.
The Sun Devil defense as a whole forced four turnovers with Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor and Damarious Randall each intercepting a pass. Randall’s 64 yard interception was momentous as he was able to turn it into a touchdown. The run defense in the first half was just as good, stuffing the Wildcats’ run game early, with three 4th down stops. Randall ended up with 12 tackles and Chris Young added 8.
Even the special teams were involved in the win. Kicker Zane Gonzalez set a new Sun Devil record by making his 18th consecutive field goal. Gonzalez finished the game with three total field goals of 38 yards, 21 yards, and 23 yards to go along with 7 extra points. Punter Alex Garoutte had a 45.5 average with a long of 59 yards and had two punts inside the Wildcats 20 yard line.
The Sun Devils victory means they not only finished their regular season undefeated at home, but they will host Stanford in Tempe for the Pac-12 Championship game on Saturday Dec. 7th at 5:45PM Arizona time on ESPN. The Sun Devils will look to even the score after an earlier loss to Stanford (42-28) back on September 21st. The winner most likely will play in the Rose Bowl.
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