The energy at Sun Devil Stadium was more ecstatic than usual as this year’s Duel in the Desert pitted ASU and UA both coming off their biggest wins of the year, UA upsetting No. 5 Oregon in Tucson 42-16 and ASU clinching the Pac-12 South Division title beating No. 14 UCLA 38-33 in Pasadena. In front of a sold out crowd, the Sun Devils offense put 58 points, the second most scored in Territorial Cup history.
The Devils opened up scoring with a pair of field goals by kicker Zane Gonzalez on their first two possessions, while the Wildcats earned no positive yards on their first drive with a delay of game penalty on the first play, a sack by defensive end Carl Bradford and a twelve yard punt. After holding the Sun Devils offense to field goals their first to drives, the Wildcats defense gave up a touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Kelly to wide receiver Darwin Rogers. ASU was up 13-0 after the first quarter and remained in control the entire game.
ASU running back D.J. Foster carried most of the rushing load, stepping in for scoring and rushing leader Marion Grice who did not play due to a leg injury. Spending the majority of the season as a slot receiver, Foster rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Although he did not get his first carry until late in the first quarter, UA All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 157 yards and one touchdown. The Sun Devils defense stopped Carey twice on fourth down.
ASU senior saftey Alden Darby had six tackles and one interception during the second quarter that led to tight end De’Marieya Nelson’s touchdown run. Nelson had 21 yards receiving, 35 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
UA kicker Jake Smith missed a 42 yard field goal late in the first half and Gonzalez answered back with a 23-yard field goal, his third of the half and a school record breaking 18th in a row. ASU was up 30-7 at the end of first half.
The Wildcats saw a some success in the third quarter as they scored 14 points and opened up the half with a touchdown drive. The Sun Devils defense forced four turnovers in the game including a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Damarious Randall, that ultimatley solidified the win putting the Devils up 37-14 midway through the third quarter. Randall also forced a fumble on a carry by UA quarterback B.J. Denker but it was recovered for a touchdown by wide receiver Garic Wharton. ASU would respond with a 61-yard touchdown pass by Kelly to wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
Going into the fourth quarter ASU lead 44-21. Foster and Nelson added two more touchdowns and UA would not score for the rest of the game. Kelly threw his first interception of the game to cornerback Jonathan McKnight but the Sun Devil defense would earn their fourth takeaway when Denker was intercepted by senior cornerback Osahon Irabor.
Kelly completed 13 of 25 passes for 274 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and also rushed for 26 yards. UA quarterback B.J. Denker completed half of his passes for 175 yards with three interceptions and added 87 yards and one touchdown rushing.
The Devils finished out their regular season with ten wins and a Pac-12 South division title, all under head coach Todd Graham’s second year. ASU will host Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 7th.