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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sweet ending for Arizona football in surprising defeat of ASU to reclaim Territorial Cup

Arizona football played its final game of the season against rival ASU to reclaim the Territorial Cup. At 2-9, Arizona was eliminated from bowl contention but played spoiler against the Sun Devils. The Wildcats defeated ASU 56-35 to end their season on a more positive note.

With this win, Arizona football improved to 3-9 on the season and earned its first and only Pac-12 win. At 5-6, Arizona State needed this victory to earn a bowl berth but the Sun Devils’ dreams fell short against the Wildcats. Last season, ASU was in the same predicament at 5-6 but wound up beating the Wildcats 52-37 in Tempe.

“If we are not going to go we are not going to let them go,” said Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins. “It was great to get this win for the senior class.”

Arizona ran for a school-record 511 yards in the win, breaking the previous record of 499 yards.

“Really proud of our team in particular our senior class,” said head coach Rich Rodriguez. “It does not make up for a tough season but it was a great win.”

This marks the fourth year in a row the Territorial Cup exchanges victors as neither team has repeated since ASU from 2012-2013. In 2014, Arizona defeated Arizona State 42-35 in what ended up being a battle for the Pac-12 south championship.

On the third play of the game, Dawkins gave Arizona the lead on a 71-yard touchdown run. Dawkins dropped back to pass before scampering through the middle untouched as Arizona took a 7-0 lead with 13:48 left in the first quarter.

ASU would manufacture their own drive but a 53-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.

On Arizona’s next possession, Dawkins was sacked and fumbled on the play resulting in a 42-yard return by Koron Crump. Jojo Wicker had the sack and ASU tied the game at 7 with 7:49 remaining in the first quarter.

Arizona regained the lead in the second quarter when Dawkins ran the ball for a 10-yard touchdown, giving Arizona a 14-7 lead with 14:18 in the second.

After stopping ASU on fourth down, Dawkins connected with Nate Phillips for a 64-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 21-7.

Arizona’s momentum continued as they sacked Manny Wilkins and recovered the fumble on the play. A few plays later, UA running back Zach Green ran it in from one yard out and Arizona extended its lead 28-7.

An ASU score before halftime and after the halftime break made it 28-21, but that was the closest the Sun Devils would get. Samajie Grant and Zach Green each had two rushing touchdowns after halftime to keep the game out of reach.

Dawkins went 3-8 for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first half and did not attempt a pass in the second half.

Manny Wilkins went 43-58 for 372 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.

Fred Gammage led ASU in receiving with 12 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown.

Arizona’s relied heavily on their running game throughout the game as ASU had no answer for it. Three different players had over 100 yards and the team carried the ball 48 times for 511 yards and seven touchdowns. Dawkins led the way with 187 yards and two scores to go with his 77 passing yards. Grant had 184 yards and three touchdowns while Green had 126 yards and two scores for Arizona.

“Samajie [Grant] was phenomenal in just a few weeks at running back and Zach Green has never ran that far in his life without passing out,” said Coach Rodriguez. “To have over 500 yards rushing, you need unselfish receiver and they were blocking great on the perimeter.”

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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