Arizona State throttles rival Arizona to retain Territorial Cup
TUCSON — Perhaps it took losing a couple of last possession games.
Perhaps it was a sense of urgency with the Arizona State Sun Devils yet to get in the win column and the season winding to a close.
Perhaps it took squaring off against an old rival in the oldest trophy game in college football.
But the Sun Devils unleashed some frustration and showed a killer instinct, trouncing rival Arizona 70-7 in Pac-12 play Friday night at Arizona Stadium to retain the Territorial Cup.
It marked the fourth straight victory in the series for the Sun Devils (1-2) and the first time either team has won that many straight since Arizona did so from 1982 to 1986. The 70 points are the most scored by ASU in Territorial Cup history, bettering the 61 scored in 1951.
For the Wildcats (0-5) it was the 12th consecutive loss, extending a streak that goes back more than a calendar year, with the last win for Kevin Sumlin's squad coming on Oct 5, 2019 against Colorado.
MORE Rewind: ASU sets Territorial Cup scoring record in 70-7 rout of Arizona
It had been a long time between wins for the Sun Devils who had three games wiped away due to a coronavirus outbreak and had losses to USC and UCLA with a month in between.
"It felt great getting our first win in a long time," sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels said. "Winning makes everything better so felt great going out there and just dominating and getting that win."
Eight different players factored in the scoring with junior running back Rachaad White, the lone player with multiple touchdowns, scoring three times.
Perhaps the opening kickoff was a sign of things to come as true freshman D.J. Taylor took the ball eight yards deep in the end zone and ran it back for a touchdown. The Florida native was just inserted into that role last week and did well enough to keep that job.
It got worse for the home team. On the second play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff, Gary Brightwell fumbled and ASU junior linebacker Darien Butler recovered.
The Sun Devils answered quickly with DeaMonte "Chip" Trayanum running it in from the 4 on the first play, making it 14-0 before even a minute had elapsed.
It steamrolled from there. In the first half alone Arizona lost two fumbles, had two interceptions and turned the ball over on downs twice.
The half ended with the Sun Devils on top 42-7. It was the most first half points for ASU in Cup history and marked the most in any half since scoring 46 in 1973 in the second half against New Mexico.
Coach Herm Edwards has been around long enough to know anything can happen and he encouraged his players not to let up.
"That was the hardest I've coached on the sideline since I've been here. When we had that lead," he said. "I was telling the players, `We have to finish the game. It's not over.' I walked up and down that sideline and if I saw a guy smiling, they couldn't even smile. I didn't want them to smile. I saw that when we played USC. I saw that in the fourth quarter. I wanted to make sure they understood we could not allow that to happen."
ASU finished with 489 yards while Arizona managed 350. White ran for 133 yards on just 10 tries, earning Bob Moran Most Outstanding Player honors.
Backup running backs Daniyel Ngata and Jackson He and wide receiver Rick Pearsall scored their first college touchdowns.
Meanwhile the Wildcats finished with as may turnovers as points. They lost four fumbles, two of which were recovered by Michael Matus, and had three passes intercepted with ASU scoring 35 points off those turnovers. In addition, they failed on all four fourth down tries.
ASU used 55 players in the first half and 61 in the game. The Sun Devils have two sets of brothers and for the first time Kyle and Connor Soelle, products of Saguaro High School, were on the field at the same time in the first half. Then in the second twins Keon and Kejuan Markham did the same thing.
Among the others who saw action in the second half was backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who hails from nearby Marana and played the fourth quarter with the Sun Devils comfortably in front.
Daniels took a seat after three quarters, having completed 9 of 11 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
"The excitement for me is after winning that game, regardless of what the score turned out to be. I was happy for our coaching staff and players. What they've gone through in the last year, you have no idea. You can't even imagine. There's no playbook for it. I was just happy to finally see these guys win a football game."
Reach the reporter at Michelle.Gardner@Gannett.com or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.