Arizona loses 41-34 to rival Arizona State

Arizona quarterback Matt Scott has taken a beating this season
and usually found a way to rally his team.

Against Arizona State, the Wildcats’ biggest rival, he couldn’t
bring the Wildcats all the way back.

Scott threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns, but also had
three interceptions and a key fumble in Arizona’s 41-34 loss to
Arizona State Friday night.

”We had some tough losses, but our team never gave up, even in
blowouts,” Arizona running back Daniel Jenkins said. ”Matt is a
great quarterback, and I told him not to hang his head. At the end
of the day, he’s a great quarterback.”

Trailing by eight at halftime, Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) scored
18 points the third quarter after Scott hit Aaron Hill on a 22-yard
touchdown and Garic Wharton on a 40-yarder, and John Bonano kicked
a 23-yard field goal.

The Wildcats just couldn’t hold on.

Arizona gave up the blocked punt, Scott had an interception and
a fumble, and Arizona State scored 24 points in the fourth quarter
to pull out the victory.

Ka’Deem Carey ran for 172 yards and a touchdown to lead
Arizona.

”I’m disappointed we lost,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.
”I love our kids and I’m really proud of our seniors, but I’m
disappointed we lost. The kids are, too, I’m sure. Our guys
competed hard.”

Arizona State (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) stormed back after trailing
27-17 in the third quarter.

Jon Mora got the rally started with a field goal. Marion Grice,
who ran for 156 yards, scored his third touchdown on a 4-yard run
to tie the game after Keelan Johnson forced Arizona quarterback
Matt Scott to fumble.

Kevin Ayers blocked a punt to set up Cameron Marshall for an
8-yard touchdown to give Arizona State the lead. Robert Nelson then
returned an interception 66 yards before Michael Eubank’s 1-yard
touchdown made it 41-27.

Even after Scott hit David Richards on a 17-yard touchdown pass
in the final two minutes to cut the lead to seven, the Sun Devils
didn’t let Arizona come up with the onside kick and ran out the
clock.

The memorable victory ensured Arizona State’s first winning
season since 2007 and gave coach Todd Graham a leg up on Rodriguez
in the 85-game series’ first game between new coaches since
Arizona’s John Mackovic beat ASU’s Dirk Koetter in 2001.

”We were down by 10, we kept battling, kept making plays,
forced a couple of turnovers; then what? We won the game,” said
Arizona State senior linebacker Brandon Magee, who had 17 tackles.
”It happened just like that.”

A heated rivalry to begin with, the Territorial Cup took on
added meaning this season with new coaches trying to get a head
start on each other.

After an unsuccessful stint at Michigan, Rodriguez brought
gas-it-all-the-time offense to the desert, hoping to turn around a
program that had fallen off hard the previous couple of
seasons.

Even without much depth on his roster, Rodriguez’s debut has
been a success: Seven wins, two over Top 25 teams, and bowl
eligibility in his first season.

Just 90 minutes up Interstate 10 in Tempe, Graham put his mark
on the Sun Devils with his no-nonsense approach and high-octane
offense. Arizona State got off to a great start, winning five of
its first six games, then rallied from a four-game losing streak to
become bowl eligible by beating Washington State last weekend.

For all they accomplished, Friday night’s game was the biggest
of the season. Bragging rights, an advantage in recruiting, a boost
for fans and alumni – plenty was riding on this game.

”This game was everything,” Graham said.

It took a while to get going.

The only player on either team to get much going early, Carey
passed Trung Canidate’s single-season school record of 1,602 yards
rushing, set in 1999, on Arizona’s second drive, then launched
himself over Arizona State safety Alden Darby for a 1-yard
touchdown run to cap it.

Bogged down early, Arizona State got going by picking off two of
Scott’s passes. Grice followed both with touchdowns: a nifty
52-yard run and a score from 3 yards out to help the Sun Devils to
a 14-9 halftime lead.

After that came the fireworks, the rivals trading big swings of
momentum by combining for 52 points, 502 yards of offense and
disparate emotions from teams that wanted this game more than any
other this season.

”This was a high-energy game, and I didn’t expect it to be any
different,” Arizona nose guard Tevin Hood said. ”There were a lot
of momentum shifts, and that really played a big part of the
game.”

The Sun Devils got the biggest shift, in the game and for the
rivalry’s two new coaches.