Party in Tempe! After 2 years of losing the Territorial Cup, victory was sweet for ASU last night. The Sun Devils beat the Wildcats in DOUBLE overtime 30-29!
(Courtesy of Doug Haller – Arizona Republic)
And so it came down to this, one game, one final shot at possible bowl eligibility, one chance to end the regular season on a positive note.
Arizona State, a team that seemed to invent new ways to lose this season, showed resolve, beating No. 23 Arizona 30-29 in two overtimes Thursday night, a thrilling Territorial Cup effort that removes the sting of countless missed opportunities.
// James Brooks was the hero on a night when many emerged. His second blocked extra point in the second overtime sent the Sun Devils into a wild celebration, their first victory over a ranked team since 2007.
For most of the night, this one was unpredictable and sloppy. By the end it was a classic.
The Sun Devils improved 6-6 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-10. Arizona, already bowl eligible but losing for the fourth consecutive time, dropped to 7-5 and 4-5, a significant letdown as 56,253 fans watched inside Arizona Stadium.
“It’s nice to get the football gods on our side,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “Well, at least the extra-point gods. What a football game. If you weren’t coaching that game, it had to be a lot of fun to watch.”
And now ASU waits.
The NCAA is expected to rule on the school’s bowl-eligibility appeal today. The Sun Devils sent in their case, trying to make their two Football Championship Subdivision wins count toward bowl eligibility. Per NCAA rules, a team playing two FCS schools must win seven games, instead of six, to play in a bowl.
It’s unknown how the NCAA will respond, but for one night, ASU was due a celebration.
A team that lost four games by nine points made their own luck against its rival. After Nick Foles hit David Douglas for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left in regulation, all the Wildcats needed was the extra point to break a 20-20 tie.
Brooks blocked it.
Arizona’s Alex Zendejas’ 19-yard field goal provided a 23-20 lead. ASU’s Thomas Weber tied it with a 40-yarder, his fifth field goal in as many tries.
In the second overtime, Cameron Marshall scored on a 2-yard run, giving ASU a 30-23 lead. Arizona’s Douglas countered with a 9-yard rush.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops opted for the tying extra point. Zendejas’ didn’t kick it well. Brooks leaped. The ball never had a chance.
“I wanted to go for two,” Stoops said. “I should’ve gone with my gut and stuck with it.”
In his first start of the season, Brock Osweiler was erratic, completing 22 of 49 for 267 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked six times, but still rushed for 56 yards. Vontaze Burfict, criticized all season for his on-field behavior, was a defensive menace. Weber, he of the agonizing USC miss, was perfect.
“Thomas hasn’t had the best year, but he certainly was at his best tonight,” Erickson said. “He got his confidence back last week.”
Foles completed 22 of 36 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He brought the Wildcats back from a 6-0 halftime deficit and 20-14 fourth-quarter deficit. Juron Criner caught six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
ASU finished with 389 yards. Arizona, with 391.
Both teams had 19 first downs.
“Certainly disappointing,” Stoops said. “It would’ve been nice to finish better.”