2018 Sun Devil Bowl Guide

19 H Y U N D A I S U N B O W L | D E C . 2 9 , 2 0 1 7 A R I Z O N A S T A T E F O O T B A L L 2 0 1 7 B O W L G U I D E GAME 12 | 10.25.17 SUN DEVIL STADIUM • TEMPE, ARIZ. In a series known for wild games and unpredictable finishes, Saturday’s 92nd playing of the Territorial Cup saw yet another chapter written into its crazy history. In this version, Arizona State used a 21-point third quarter, a blocked punt and a three-touchdown performance from quarterback Manny Wilkins to erase an early deficit and beat rival Arizona, 42-30. A balanced offensive attack paved the way for that comeback, and heading the charge was Wilkins. The signal caller finished the day with over 190 total yards and three touchdowns. His first score of the afternoon came late in the first quarter, cutting an early 14-0 deficit in half with a long and productive possession. The Sun Devils ultimately found the end zone on the ninth play of the drive as Wilkins hit sophomore receiver Kyle Williams for an 18-yard touchdown pass. It was the Arizona State ground game that started to click after that. The second scoring drive of the day featured six rushes on nine plays, and it was senior Kalen Ballage who capped the drive with a one-yard jaunt to pull his team closer at 17-14. Ballage finished a storied regular season career with 11 carries in his final game at Sun Devil Stadium, while his counterpart and fellow senior in the backfield Demario Richard ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Richard (later named the game’s MVP and Bob Moran Player of the Game) was the one who got Arizona State’s second half comeback off on the right foot with a one-yard touchdown run, taking advantage of tremendous field position after Curtis Hodges blocked a punt all the way back to the Arizona five-yard line. The punt-block portion of the Sun Devil special teams unit has been extra special this season, now tied for first in the country with six blocks on the year. Demonte King’s first interception in a Sun Devil uniform set his team up deep in Wildcat territory once again, and once again, the offense took advantage. Six carries on the first seven plays of the drive forced Rich Rodriguez’s defense to sell out against the run and Wilkins took advantage, finding wideout N’Keal Harry on a fade route to give the home team its first lead of the day. The Arizona State offense continued to produce and extend its lead, first on another Richard touchdown that made the score 35-24, and again on another Wilkins-Harry connection that iced the game at 42-30. On the other end of the field it was Phil Bennett’s defense that showed marked improvement in the final 30 minutes, holding Arizona to 60 fewer yards and 18 fewer points than it had in the first half. The Sun Devils finished the game converting on six of their seven trips to the red zone, the lone blemish coming as Wilkins took a knee to run out the game’s final seconds. The team is now 46-of-48 for the season in that category, with the other miss also coming as the team ran out the clock in last month’s win over Washington. Saturday’s victory not only reclaimed the Territorial Cup for Arizona State, but also ensured the team a second place finish in the Pac-12 South. ARIZONA 30 ARIZONA STATE 42