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Arizona-Arizona State game blog: Cats win

Arizona QB Nick Foles is sacked by linebacker Carl Bradford in the first half. Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Last play: Incomplete.

Arizona wins 31-27.

* * *

Nine seconds left. ASU at the UA 15. … Incomplete in the end zone.

* * *

Fourth-and-10 for ASU from the UA 49 with 26 seconds left … and the Devils got it with a 14-yard pass.

* * *

Arizona faces fourth-and-3 from the ASU 41 with 1:19 left. ASU is out of timeouts. Kyle Dugandzic, after a delay of game, punts it into the end zone.

* * *

Arizona comes up with its THIRD turnover deep in its territory, this time on a Jourdon Grandon interception, and he returns it to the ASU 43.

Arizona sitting pretty … up 31-27 with 2:15 to play.

* * *

That’s the Juron Criner everybody has wanted to see. Like Gino Crump earlier in the quarter, Criner breaks multiple tackles after catching a short pass — this one on third-and-5 from Bryson Beirne — and scores on a 23-yard play.

Arizona takes a 31-27 lead with 5:18 to play.

* * *

Nick Foles down with 6:10 to play. Looked like he injured himself while twisting to make a handoff. Weird. Here comes Bryson Beirne.

* * *

Trevin Wade steps up and makes a play, knocking down on a pass on fourth-and-3 from the UA 39.

* * *

That was the play of Gino Crump’s career — he turned a short pass to the sideline into a Barry Sanders-esque escape-fest, eluding four or five tacklers and dashing into the end zone for a 33-yard score.

That capped a 94-yard drive — aided, of course, by a personal foul penalty on ASU on the first play — and the Wildcats have life.

It’s ASU up 27-24 with 10:25 to play.

* * *

Even while often playing with six defensive backs, Arizona’s pass defense is wilting under the attack of ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler. He had completed passes of 27, 34, 30, 58, 20, 21, 22 and 47 yards by early in the fourth quarter.

ASU took a 27-17 lead with 12:33 to go on a 27-yard field goal by Alex Garoutte.

* * *

Going to the fourth quarter. ASU leads 24-17 and had solved Arizona’s offense after giving up touchdowns on each of the Cats’ first two possessions.

* * *

ASU’s defense right now makes it seem like the first half of last season’s game, when the Wildcats were shut out.

* * *

Arizona’s defense has been bending, but it came up with its second big turnover deep in its territory. Trevin Wade knocks the ball free from WR Kevin Ozier, with Derek Earls recovering at the UA 16.

* * *

Arizona has only three points in its past eight possessions. ASU’s defense is not that good.

Devils still lead 24-17, with the ball, late in the third quarter.

* * *

The pace is the game is crawling. Now for something new: ASU has two penalties on offense on the same play — holding and illegal block below the waist.

* * *

Arizona will take that. The defense holds near the goal line, and ASU has to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Alex Garoutte. Arizona stays within one score at 24-17 with 9:24 to go in the third quarter.

* * *

ASU’s dynamic returner Jamal Miles makes his presence felt with a 44-yard punt return (topped by a 5-yard penalty by Arizona) that lets the Devils start a drive at the ASU 23.

* * *

By the way, catching up on some halftime stats: Nick Foles, 249 passing yards; Brock Osweiler, 237.

* * *

A sack? By Arizona? I remember those …

The Cats force ASU to punt on the first possession of the second half after sacking Osweiler — C.J. Parish gets it done — and now it’s up to Nick Foles and crew to get back to the end zone and grab the lead.

* * *

AD Greg Byrne, talking casually to reporters in the press box at halftime, said he occasionally follows internet speculation on who he will pick as the next head coach. The rumors have focused lately on former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. Byrne said he finds the speculation “funny.”

* * *

Arizona, not willing to run out the clock, keeps passing in the final minute, hitting a pass for 18 yards to Gino Crump on third down and then a 17-yard pass to Juron Criner … topped by 15 yards for a roughing the passer.

That sets up a 44-yard field goal attempt from left hash by John Bonano with seven seconds to go in the half … and it’s good.

That stops a run of 21 unanswered points for the Devils, who lead 21-17 at halftime.

* * *

No luck on the replay review. Nickel back Jourdon Grandon had apparently made a diving interception at the ASU 48 on a poorly thrown ball over the middle by Brock Osweiler, but the call is overturned.

ASU has to punt with 41 seconds left, and the Cats take over at its 18 with 33 seconds left in the half.

* * *

And here’s the Arizona defense we have seen all year (UCLA game excluded). The Wildcats give up a wide-open deep pass to Aaron Pflugrad for 58 yards and then let Cameron Marshall burst through the middle for a 22-yard rushing touchdown.

And then Mohammed Usman picks up a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness on the PAT.

ASU leads 21-14 with 4:29 to play in the second quarter.

Arizona is paying for its inability to cash in on offense, having missed two field goals. Not only is that six points the Cats don’t have, but this is a game in which the Cats need touchdowns, not field goals.

* * *

After the ASU penalty keeps the drive alive, Arizona stalls in the red zone … and then John Bonano can’t quite find the range again. After hitting the left upright from 49 yards, Bonano’s 27-yard attempt fades to the right and looks to go nearly directly over the right upright.

It’s not good … and we’re still tied.

Can UA get a stop?

* * *

Nobody ever accused ASU of being a smart team. As Arizona throws incomplete on third-and-10, defensive end Junior Onyeali is penalized 15 yards for an “unnecessary shove.”

The drive continues …

* * *

And … we’re tied.

Arizona State has come back from a 14-0 deficit to knot it up with 10:14 to go in the second quarter. Brock Osweiler and Gerell Robinson putting on a nice pass-catch show, and they hook up for a 12-yard score.

It must be the green laser in the eyes of the Arizona defensive backs.

* * *

An unkind bounce off the left upright for John Bonano on a 49-yard field goal attempt. Can’t argue with his leg, though.

Anyway, it’s a missed opportunity for Arizona, as Nick Foles missed an open Richard Morrison over the middle on third-and-7. Games turn on such plays.

It stays 14-7 Arizona with 13:00 to play before halftime.

* * *

Before the start of the second quarter, a game official announces to the crowd that if a “green laser” is shown on the field one more time, play will be suspended.

Had never heard that one before.

* * *

Another record for Nick Foles. A pass to Taimi Tutogi late in the first quarter gives Foles a school single-season record 328 completions, eclipsing the mark set by Willie Tuitama in 2007.

The first quarter ends with Arizona up 14-7.

* * *

ASU, relying on its passing game against a UA defense often using as three-man front, cuts into Arizona’s lead with a 74-yard drive, capped by Cameron Marshall 2-yard run.

Arizona leads 14-7 with 2 minutes to go in the first quarter.

Everybody who said “shootout” raise their hand.

* * *

Arizona is playing like a team Mike Bellotti could be proud of.

* * *

The first scrum of the game as the ball comes loose on ASU’s kick return. UA coach Tim Kish rushes onto the field to help restore order.

* * *

Strange things happen in rivalry games. Arizona goes up 14-0 with 5:34 to go in the first quarter, taking advantage of the interception by Shaquille Richardson.

Nick Foles converts thrid-and-goal form the 11, buying time and finding Ka’Deem Carey over the middle, and he gets the final few yards on his own to get past the goal line.

* * *

With that 46-yard catch and run by Keola Antolin, Nick Foles becomes the UA single-season passing leader (3,715 yards).

* * *

Early momentum is a wonderful thing for Arizona. Shaquille Richardson stops an ASU drive with an interception of Brock Osweiler (hey, UA held on to one this year after dropping several vs. ASU last season) and returns it 41 yards to the ASU 49.

ASU did not run the ball on its first drive; RB Cameron Marshall is said to be ailing with a knee injury.

* * *

Big play from safety Robert Golden, who closes ground to knock away a deep pass on ASU’s first play of the game. Brock Osweiler was trying to go deep to Gerell Robinson after a fake end around.

* * *

Arizona strikes first with an 80-yard drive, aided by two third-down penalties on ASU (the Sun Devils have been among the nation’s most penalized teams for the past few years under Dennis Erickson).

An offsides penalty let Arizona go from third-and-6 to third-and-1 early in the drive, and then ASU gets called for pass interference on third-and-goal from the 6.

Arizona eventually punches it on as Keola Antolin shreds a couple of tackles on a run to the left, and muscles into the end zone from 1 yard out.

The big play on the drive was a deep pass from Nick Foles to Juron Criner for 48 yards to the ASU 1.

Arizona leads 7-0 with 9:41 to play in the first quarter.

* * *

Arizona wins the toss, will receive. This has been Tim Kish’s desire since taking over as interim coach. Start with the ball.

* * *

This was said to be a sold-out stadium …. but plenty of empty seats minutes before halftime — like several thousand in the upper deck on the east side. Stuck in traffic? Passed out in tailgating?

* * *

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles needs 72 yards to break the single-season passing record of 3,683, set by Willie Tuitama in 2007.

Foles enters the game holding the career record for passing yards (9,289 yards), completions (865) and total offense (8,995).

* * *

Good vs. evil? Arizona is wearing all white. ASU is wearing all black.

* * *

Yes, the Mike Bellotti-to-Arizona rumors have gained steamed today. CBSSports.com’s Dennid Dodd even wrote a blog about it, citing an Oregon source as saying Bellotti is “anxious” to get back into coaching.

There is disagreement in the press box among those who cover Arizona. Some say the reports of Bellotti to Arizona are not credible.

For now, I believe them.

* * *


Arizona coaches and players have worn wristbands all season that carry two messages: “No looking back” and “All in.”

The Cats didn’t seem to be “all in” last week at Colorado. We’ll see how that goes tonight at Arizona State.

As for the “no looking back” part, this might be the day when Arizona wants to break that rule, because looking back at last year’s double-overtime loss to Arizona State could provide needed fuel.

Most of the problem was self-inflicted — the blocked PATs — but the images of what happened next could be — should be — burning in the Wildcats’ minds.

Quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, who was new to the rivalry last season, explained.

“Going into the game I could sense the passion, and even the venom at times, of fans and players alike. And I really didn’t get it,” Scelfo said.

“But when that last play took place, I was up in the press box and I saw what happened on our field. I saw the celebration that took place. I saw the way they basically desecrated our field.

“Now I know why people feel the way they do about this game. Now, I get it. I think you have to experience something like that to really understand how deep it runs.

“And it runs deep. It runs deep.”

Arizona State got to celebrate after the 30-29 victory, sealed with a blocked extra point at the end of the second overtime. The Sun Devils planted their pitchfork in the Arizona Stadium turf.

Do the Wildcats look back at that? If so, does the fire burn?

Related links:

Arizona-Arizona State prediction

Arizona coaching rumors swirling as season winds down

Five Sun Devils to watch

Five Wildcats to watch

Zendejas has his ASU memories — good and bad

Arizona assistants Hammerschmidt and Salave’a talk about the ASU rivalry

Rivalry debut: UA freshman Tramayne Bondurant ready to lead vs. ASU

Rivalry legends: King Clutch and Dice Man

Arizona Republic: Zendejas’ family big part of rivalry

Arizona Republic: Marshall law: Family trumps rivalry

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