Territorial Cup: Sun Devils top Wildcats in Tucson, 41-34
Marion Grice had a career game and the Arizona State defense forced critical stops and turnovers down the stretch as the Sun Devils downed the University of Arizona, 41-34, Friday night in Tucson, Ariz.
The Sun Devils trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, but scored 24 unanswered points in the frame to bring the Territorial Cup back to Tempe.
Grice finished the game with 18 rushes for a career-high 156 yards and three touchdowns and was named the Bob Moran Most Valuable Player of the game.
For the fourth consecutive season, the visiting team won the annual rivalry game after the Wildcats used a fourth-quarter rally in Tempe last season as well to earn the victory in a series that has had more than its fair share of fireworks over the years.
Friday night was no different.
With Arizona driving for what looked to be the icing on the cake - leading 27-17 with just under 10 minutes remaining - Keelan Johnson forced a Matt Scott fumble on the ASU 18-yard-line that was recovered by Deveron Carr after a scramble at the ASU 44.
The Sun Devils put it all on Grice's back from there, as he would rush for 48 yards including a four yard touchdown to net things at 27 on his third rushing touchdown of the game - matching a career high.
On the ensuing Wildcat possession, the Sun Devils forced a quick three-and-out to force the UA to punt from inside their own 20. That allowed Kevin Ayers to find his way through the UA defense for his second punt block of the season to set the Sun Devils up on the Arizona eight-yard-line.
Cameron Marshall wasted no time pointing ASU back out front as he took the next play from scrimmage to the house for his 36th career rushing touchdown to put ASU up 34-17 with 5:34 remaining.
The Sun Devils would intercept Scott on the ensuing drive as Robert Nelson returned his second pick of the season 66 yards to the Arizona two-yard line that set up a one-yard quarterback scramble from Michael Eubank to put ASU up 41-27 with 2:51 left.
The Wildcats weren't going down without though as they quickly drove 75 yards in less than a minute to come back within seven on an eight-yard David Richards touchdown reception from Matt Scott to make it 41-34 with 1:54 left.
The onside kick would go out of bounds, however, allowing Arizona State to run out the clock and take the victory and the first fourth-quarter comeback of the season for the Sun Devils.
The Sun Devils had three interceptions on the game and scored 28 points off turnovers to the Wildcats' three. Arizona State has also outscored its opponents 130-48 in the frame this season.
Senior linebacker Brandon Magee set a new career-high with 17 tackles on the game, 14 of which were solo and the ASU defense had seven pass break-ups and three interceptions on the contest. The defense held Scott to 19-of-39 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns but forced him to throw three touchdowns for just the second time in his career.
Grice's game offset one of the tougher games of the season for Taylor Kelly, who finished 16-of-29 for 191 yards and no touchdowns. It was the first time this season Kelly didn't have a touchdown pass, breaking a streak of 11 consecutive games with one. Kelly was only sacked once on the game though and had no turnovers while adding 42 yards on the ground.
For just the second time his season, it wasn't the Sun Devils who put points on the board first in the game as Arizona drive 69 yards on 11 plays on their second drive of the half to go up 6-0 following a missed John Bonano extra point attempt.
Arizona State would not respond in the frame, however, and were held scoreless in the first quarter for just the second time this season.
The Sun Devils would respond in the second though, as Grice took advantage of Keelan Johnson's fifth interception of the season to put the team on the board with a 52-yard scamper for his 15th touchdown of the season to help put ASU up 7-6 with 9:42 left in the half.
On the first play from scrimmage for the UA following the score, Matt Scott tossed a second consecutive interception toOsahon Irabor - his first of the season - to set up a nine-play, 62-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard Grice touchdown to put ASU up 14-6 with 6:16 left in the half.
The Sun Devils would drive again at the end of the half but an Alonzo Agwuenu fumble inside Arizona territory would lead to a 33-yard Bonano field goal at the bell to make the score 14-9 heading into the break.
Arizona would come out firing in the third quarter though, scoring 17 unanswered of the own following two Scott touchdowns to Austin Hill and Garic Wharton, respectively. A 23-yard John Bonano kick with 4:14 left in the third would be the last time the Wildcats would get on the board until their late touchdown after the Sun Devil rally was completed.
With the victory, the Sun Devils will officially be going to a bowl game an will await their fate that will likely be decided after the Pac-12 Championships game next Saturday.