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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Same finish for ‘Cats

    TEMPE – It’s déjÇÿ vu, all over again.

    In a game that the Arizona football team could have clinched a bowl berth for the second consecutive year against its archrivals, the result was the same: a loss.

    The Wildcats (5-7, 4-5 Pacific 10 Conference) will have to settle for their ninth straight season without a postseason appearance, despite winning three of their last four games – an eerily reminiscent memory of what last season could have been had the Wildcats beaten ASU in the Territorial Cup in the season finale.

    Instead, the trophy will remain up north in the Phoenix valley, after the No. 13 Sun Devils (10-2, 7-2) won their third consecutive rivalry game over the Wildcats.

    It is the Sun Devils’ first three-game winning streak over the Wildcats since it won four consecutive from 1975-1978.

    ASU has now won seven of the last nine ‘Duel in the Desert’ battles. Before Saturday, however, Arizona had defeated ASU four straight times playing a ranked Sun Devil squad.

    After two consecutive games of Arizona fans rushing the field at home, it was the home ASU fans that stormed the field this time.

    “”They just made the big plays when they needed to and we didn’t,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen. “”They’re used to winning. They do the things that need to be done to win.””

    Arizona trailed 13-7 heading into the fourth quarter despite three turnovers and losing the total offense battle 279 yards to 163.

    Kicker Jason Bondzio nailed a 31-yard field goal with 8:47 to play, making it a three-point game, but the Sun Devils followed on the ensuing possession with an 80-yard drive capped by a 20-yard pass from quarterback Rudy Carpenter to Michael Jones with 4:27 remaining, making the score 20-10.

    Arizona kick returner Mike Thomas followed with a 55-yard return and the Wildcats pushed the ball all the way to the Sun Devil two-yard line on a 13-yard scamper by Willie Tuitama, but could not score after a pass intended for running back Chris Jennings was broken up in the end zone on fourth down.

    The Wildcats had another chance to score after the Sun Devils couldn’t get the ball past their own two-yard line. ASU followed with a punt and the Wildcats responded with a touchdown drive of their own on a four-yard pass to Nicolas Grigsby, making the score 20-17.

    Time was not Arizona’s ally, and after an unsuccessful onsides kick try, the game was sealed when the Sun Devils recovered near midfield.

    “”You can blame it on what you want to, but hands down we just didn’t get the job done,”” Thomas said. “”We just couldn’t get in a rhythm.””

    From the start of the game, it appeared Arizona was in the driver’s seat after safety Corey Hall forced a fumble recovered by Larsen in the second play of the game. The Wildcats didn’t score on the first possession but scored on a one-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski in their following drive, putting them ahead early, 7-0.

    Arizona could not score again until the fourth quarter.

    “”We didn’t play better as a team and ASU certainly had a lot to do with that,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said. “”It just seemed like we couldn’t make a play and they made them all.””

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