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.