Editor: Devils In Detail is pleased to welcome our newest contributing writer, Don Hansen. Along with co-host Rob Malara, they create Arizona State football podcasts for ASUDevilsDen.com. We look forward to his ongoing insights into Sun Devil football.
On the road with just under nine minutes left in the 4th quarter of the 2012 Territorial Cup, the Arizona State Sun Devils were in a difficult situation. The Sun Devils were down seven, and the University of Arizona Wildcats had all of the momentum as they had just taken the lead and were driving easily down the field, entering the red zone, and looking to score again. As Sun Devil fans were miserably remembering late season collapses of the past, it happened…
Arizona quarterback Matt Scott took the snap and ran left around the edge for positive yards. There he was met by ASU senior captain, free safety Keelan Johnson. Johnson squarely hit Scott, stood him up, and stripped the ball. The Sun Devil defense aggressively recovered the fumble so the offense could take over. With only 8:39 left on the clock now, the ASU offense quickly moved down the field and Marion Grice rushed into the endzone to tie the game. The Sun Devils continued to physically dominate the Wildcats for the rest of the 4th quarter and won the 2012 Territorial Cup 41-34 in Tucson.
The win allowed ASU to finish the season at 7-5 and sent the Sun Devils to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl instead of the New Mexico Bowl. The difference in bowl games allowed for ASU to get more practice time by playing later in the bowl season, which was critical for the Sun Devils’ young roster. Most importantly, though, the Sun Devils defeated their in-state recruiting rival down in Tucson to return the Territorial Cup to Tempe.
Rivalry games are big. Rivalry games between two schools with first-year head coaches with history are HUGE. This was a statement game for ASU, and the Sun Devils were rewarded for buying into the new philosophies of Todd Graham. Late in the season, late in the game, on the road, Keelan Johnson showed the heart and physicality that was missing in previous Sun Devil seasons. Certainly the “speaking victory” campaign and the 6 a.m. Pride Friday workouts contributed to this Sun Devil team physically dominating the Wildcats in the 4th quarter of the last regular season game.