Sullivan, ASU lose game despite solid effort

With no bowl game or even a .500 record to play for in their season finale, ASU played hard but ultimately made too costly many mistakes in its loss to its rival Arizona who prevailed 20-17.

The effort was there, especially from the seniors who were playing their final game in the Maroon and Gold, many of which stepped up big in a close game, especially former goat Danny Sullivan.

With 7:21 left in the second quarter, Dennis Erickson turned to his senior to replace starter Samson Szakacsy after the offense failed to do much of anything against the U of A defense and Sullivan responded.

"It meant everything. I've never taken a snap in this game in my whole career until I got in today," Sullivan admitted. "I think that's why I was so devastated during the week, just like ‘man, I'm never going to get my chance,' finally I got in there, got the opportunity to make some plays.

"I wasn't really expecting to play, if much at all, I thought it was pretty good, but it doesn't matter, we lost. It's gut wrenching right now. Rivalry games are always going to be good games, close games that come down to the wire, and it happened to not go our way."

Sullivan's first drive stalled, but he seemed to get the team into a rhythm as the game progressed, finishing with 14 completions on 28 attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns; both to fellow senior Kyle Williams.

"We started getting our run game going a lot better," Sullivan pointed out. "Dmitri started running the ball, getting some open holes, and it kept them on their heels a little bit because they couldn't just play pass defense and their defensive line earlier was getting to Dmitri, so I think that worked out for us."

The season never turned out as many had hoped, and the game against Arizona was no different as it was filled with offense ineptitude at times, and costly mistakes.

"It's basically a season where nothing went our way," Sullivan said. "You look at so many close games this year: USC, Cal, Georgia, this one, four games to go five points or less is not fair, you have to win one of them at least…." Sullivan made the play of his career with 2:02 left in the game with his team facing a fourth and 12 at U of A's 14, trailing by seven. Sullivan rolled to his right and fired a ball that Kyle Williams fully extended for in the end zone, tying the score at 17.

"I was scrambling away from pressure and it was a play that we drew up right before I walked out to the huddle," Sullivan stated. "The players thought it was going to be one play and I changed it on them, and we know it worked."

ASU then put its faith into its defense, which came up with a big stop against the Wildcats, forcing them to punt with 1:03 left. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, Williams, who just became the hero, muffed a punt he should've let bounce, and U of A recovered, setting up the game-winning touchdown.

"Well I was just hoping that we would retain possession because it was really windy," Sullivan said of the punt, "especially when the ball got up in the air and some rain started to come down too, so it really wasn't going in our favor.

"Basically sums up the season, doesn't it? We've had so many games go the wrong way for us and to have it happen like that to a guy who has worked so hard this year to get to where he wants to be and where he's been, he made two big plays in the game for us and he's my best friend and I feel so sorry for him that it had to happen that way for him and this team."

Sullivan's career at ASU will end on a sour note, but the senior to his credit never gave up through all the season's hardships.

"All the ups and downs, all the criticism I've been taking, all the people hating on me, just keeping an even keel, focusing on myself," Sullivan declared. "This team, you know it's good to go out on a high note, it should've been better though."

Sullivan has had his share of haters throughout the year, many of which coming from the student section, but both treated each other with respect today with Sullivan getting praise from the students before the game, and giving it back when the game ended.

"I didn't know what ovation I was going to get coming out of here," Sullivan admitted. "I may not have had a good season, but from what I'm told, I'm a good person and a true Sun Devil, so I hope that is enough.

"They've been great all along pretty much, even though there have been a couple I can pick out boos from sometimes, but students are great and their passionate as much as we are. They are the loudest people in the stadium so you give them their credit, and they were loud today, so good for them."

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