It was a familiar scene, with a different twist. Once again Arizona saw a team jump out to a huge lead with a big three-touchdown quarter. This time however, it was the Wildcats who came out hot as they scored the game's first 20 points on their way to a 34-21 win over archrival ASU.
"It put the pressure on them," Arizona head coach John Mackovic said of the Wildcats' first quarter explosion. "It was the most important part of the game."
A trio of Wildcat underclassmen had solid games. Local Phoenix product Bobby Wade led the way, catching 11 passes for 157 yards and the Cats' first score. Clarence Farmer added 167 yards on 32 carries, while junior quarterback Jason Johnson completed 18-of-29 passes for 225 yards.
"Our offense was good, they did what they needed to do," Mackovic said.
The victory was marred by a post-game fracas when both teams rumbled at midfield. A group of Sun Devil players were apparently upset by the Wildcats' jubilant celebration in the middle of the field.
"You have to win with a certain level of class," Mackovic said. "I am disappointed with the altercation."
Arizona took the opening kickoff and proceeded to march down the field in a strange, penalty filled drive. The Cats held the ball for 6:29 and marched 70 yards in 13 plays. On the drive the Cats utilized the big play and overcame four penalties, including two personal fouls, to take the early 7-0 lead. Following a Sun Devil sack, Johnson found Wade on a quick screen and the shifty Wildcat wide-out scooted 19 yards for the score.
The Wildcats defense forced a three and out and after a 19-yard punt the Wildcats had great field position. Wade was once again Johnson's favorite target. The two hooked up twice on the ensuing drive before Johnson tucked the ball in and scored from six yards out. The Arizona lead went to 14-0.
ASU moved the ball well on their second drive of the game. Andrew Walter connected with Darryl Lightfoot and Shaun McDonald on long passes and the Devils found themselves deep in Wildcat territory. ASU coach Dirk Koetter went to the trick play and tried the halfback pass to the quarterback. Tom Pace overthrew Walter and Wildcats cornerback Jermaine Chapman picked it off and returned it to the Devil 43-yard line. Four plays later Farmer took the hand off, cut back and coasted 20 yards for the touchdown. The Cats dominated the first quarter and led 20-0 at the end of the first frame.
In the second quarter, ASU got on the board following a long drive of their own. Walter found Donnie O'Neal in the back of the endzone to cap an 11 play, 74-yard drive.
Arizona led 20-7 at halftime.
The Devils got right back into the game on the first possession of the second half. Aided by a pass interference penalty, the Devils easily moved down the field. On third and short from the Wildcat 33, Flowers found a hole and raced to the endzone. Before the Wildcats could touch the ball the Devils had cut the lead to 20-14.
After the next UA series, the Sun Devils got the ball back in great field position at the Cat 45 but were unable to move the ball. An apparent Sun Devil touchdown pass was dropped by McDonald and the Devils went three and out.
The Cats seemed reinspired and marched down the field. Farmer had a 24-yard run and Wade came back on an under thrown pass to turned it into a 40-yard gain to the Devil 18. Two plays later the Cats faced third and three from the 11. Johnson rolled out and found Malosi Leonard on the goal line. The senior receiver spun out of the tackle and gave the Wildcats a 27-14 lead.
Two ASU mistakes led to the Wildcats' fifth touchdown. Following the Leonard touchdown, the Devils let the short kickoff roll to the goal line and the Wildcat pursuit stopped the Devils runback at their own eight-yard line. Two plays later Krohn threw a perfect pass to Wildcat safety Brandon Nash who picked it off and walked 13 yards for the score.
The Devils' second trick play of the game was more successful. Faking a punt, Pace hit Flowers 33-yards down field. The Sun Devil running back hauled in the pass before receiving a crushing blow from Wade who reacted to the fake a second too late. The Devils appeared to self-destruct inside the Wildcat ten, before a defensive holding penalty gave them second life. The Devils had a fumble and two penalties - one calling back a score - before a holding penalty set up a short Flowers scoring run. Once again the Devils were within two touchdowns, trailing 34-21.
The Devils could not get any closer as the Wildcats ran out the clock and took home the Territorial Cup.
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