ASU football has been on the wrong side of many one-score games this season. On Saturday night, the Sun Devils prevailed to retain the Territorial Cup.
It looked bleak for Arizona State Saturday night in Tucson.
Arizona outplayed the Sun Devils for three quarters building a 40-21 lead heading into the third quarter.
The Sun Devils have been on the wrong side of many tight games this season having lost all five games by one score this season.
But Arizona State shocked everyone in Arizona Stadium pulling off a 20-point fourth quarter to stun the Wildcats 41-40.
“Give these guys credit,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “They’ve played nine one-score games and we’ve won four, lost five but it’s something to build on because of a lot of these games are played that way, they’re played tight.”
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Senior quarterback Manny Wilkins said this week he was not going to lose this game. In his final Territorial Cup, Wilkins shined in the fourth quarter engineering one of the greatest comebacks in the historic rivalry.
“Being a senior that doesn’t have the opportunity to come back,” Wilkins said. “It’s always awesome to go out beating this football team.”
Two years ago, it was a different storyline in Tucson. After battling injuries throughout his sophomore season, Arizona State was dominated by the Wildcats 56-35 as ASU finished the season on a six-game losing streak, missing out on a bowl game.
This time around, the script was flipped as the Sun Devils prevented Arizona from qualifying for a bowl game.
“I just stayed the course. Just very grateful for these coaches, these teammates because there’s never been a point this season where we let up,” Wilkins said. “It’s an honor to be a part of something like that. It’s an honor to be the captain of a football that just trusts me and the coaches.”
Edwards praised the team’s composure as Arizona State continued to take it one play at a time.
“They know just to keep battling. When you don’t panic, you don’t just go awry and start doing things, you got a chance,” Edwards said. “You feel if we can get back in it, we got a shot and we can win it. We’ve done that this year and that’s kind of been who we are.”
Wilkins and Edwards motivated the defense all game that if they can get a stop, the offense will score.
It was a struggle for the defense in the first three quarters, but both the defense and Wilkins held their end of the bargain as the Sun Devils capitalized.
A punt, fumble and interception led to the game’s final 17 points.
“I went to them right after we scored and I looked at everyone of those guys in the eyes and said, ‘go give me the football,'” Wilkins said. “They all said they were going to give me the football. We got the football, Tyler (Johnson) came over to me and handed me the football and we scored.”
For Wilkins, this Territorial Cup will likely be the lasting memory of his legacy as an Arizona State Sun Devil.
Wilkins has been through numerous coaching changes, injuries and adversity. He’s also been one of the most heavily criticized players, the territory of being the quarterback and a face of program.
As Wilkins prepares for his final collegiate game in a to be determined bowl game, he leaves with no regrets.
“People are going to think what they think of me. I bust my (expletive) for this university, put my all into it. I got one game left and I’m going to empty the tank in that game, but I have no regrets,” Wilkins said. “Obviously, there’s games I wished I had back and things like that but I gave it my all every single game I played. I know that, my teammates know that, my coaches know that and that’s what matters.”
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.