The Sun Devils answered in the ensuing possession with a 40-yard field goal by Thomas Weber, and were the beneficiaries of a Wildcat miscue as punter Keenyn Crier's knee touched the ground while he fielded a low snap, giving ASU the ball on the host's 19-yard line. Rudy Carpenter found Andrew Pettes from two yards out to what would ultimately be the maroon and gold's only touchdown, and last score, of the night.
Arizona stormed out in the third quarter scoring 21 points and will now play in the Last Vegas Bowl, their first post-season appearance since 1998.
"We came out three and out and they took the ball down (the field)," said Erickson. "We still had a chance and then threw an interception (which led to another Wildcats scored) and then they returned a punt (for a touchdown) and everything started going the other way.
"We just couldn't answered when they scored…I know we had to play extremely well to win this football game and we did in the first half. I thought our guys played very hard, but in the second half you can't play like we had offensively as of late and expect to win football games."
ASU had 96 yards of total offense the second half and totaled 162 yards for the contest. Arizona has 389 yards for the entire game.
In his last game in the maroon and gold, Carpenter was 13-33 for 124 yards. The signal caller was sacked three times during the contest.
"It's very disappointing," said Carpenter. "U of A played a great game, their coaching staff did a great job, and their players made a lot of plays. It's been the same story all year long for us on offense – we just can't make plays.
"The interception I threw was a huge turning point in the game and once we got down we had to start throwing a little bit. We had a couple of adjustments coming into the game, trying to run the ball from shotgun a little more, some weak side zone plays and they were working for a while.
"But they made adjustments too and we were pretty abysmal on offense, pretty much all year everywhere, and it starts with me. I didn't play well pretty much all year and when that happens it's hard to win games."
"We have to continue to get better," commented Erickson. "We knew we would have our hands full down here and we knew we couldn't make a lot of mistakes…5-7 isn't a good season, so we're disappointed.
"We're happy about our young guys and that's something I can address next week after all this is over with. We made some progress but 5-7 isn't good…we have some stuff we need to investigate, find out where we are at. Obviously we can't be playing the way we have on offense."
Carpenter revealed after the game that he tore the MCL on his right knee in a game against Oregon State on November 1st and will undergo surgery on Monday. If ASU would have won tonight to secure a spot in the Last Vegas Bowl it is likely that Carpenter would not have played.
He is proud of his accomplishments in his ASU career, which include going 3-1 against Arizona, second all-time win leader at QB for the Sun Devils and being in many of the top five all-time Pac-10 stat categories for quarterbacks.
"But it doesn't matter though," acknowledged Carpenter. ‘We didn't win enough games."
The senior is still is disbelief that an offense which returned the vast majority of its skills players from a 10-3 season, eventually played so poorly throughout 2008.
"I thought we could do something special this year," stated Carpenter. "Obviously we had a tough schedule…but it really comes down to us that we couldn't make plays on offense almost all year."