I have seen numerous Duels in the Desert but last night’s was definitely one for the ages. Though it didn’t get interesting until well into the second half, this game became everything that rivalry games are about. Defensive slugfest early…little bit of offense in the end…and pure skill, luck and execution to finish the game off right.
Each team was looking for a bit of redemption to end their respective regular seasons. Arizona had been bowl eligible for over a month, but had lost 3 straight coming into the 84th meeting of these two Arizona rivals. They needed a solid win to guarantee a somewhat respectable bowl berth. Arizona State, on the other hand, were attempting to salvage a roller coaster season that saw the Sun Devils lose to 3 top-15 teams by a combined total of less than 16. And Sun Devil kicker Thomas Weber, one of the top kickers in the nation entering his senior season, needed to makeup for a missed field goal that led to ASU’s loss to USC early in November.
Both teams fought hard for that redemption. Both defenses kept the game low-scoring through the first 3 quarters with numerous 3-and-outs, and less than a handful of field goals. But with the fourth quarter came the energy of the Arizona offense. The Wildcats opened up a 14-6 lead on the Sun Devils with a couple nice TD passes from top QB NFL prospect Nick Foles. But when it came time for UA’s defense to hold up…they couldn’t. ASU got a third field goal out of Weber and then proceeded to get a TD with a two point conversion and a fourth field goal to put the Sun Devils up 20-14. UA came back with a nice TD…and this is where the game got good.
UA kicker Alex Zendejas had been less-than-stellar all year with his kicks. And when he went to put the Wildcats ahead, and seal their victory, his low trajectory paid off for the Sun Devils defensive stopper James Brooks hung in the air as the ball was kicked and was able to swat down the PAT ensuring an OT.
It was in the second OT, after both teams kicked field goals in the first, that the Sun Devils found their redemption. RB Cameron Marshall and Weber successfully put the Sun Devils ahead 30-23. And it was then time for UA to answer. With a 9 yard TD, it looked like Arizona was going to send the game into a third extra period. Except Zendejas was once again under pressure to kick that all important PAT. And just like the time before, he was BLOCKED by ASU’s James Brooks. Actually it was more like he kicked into the butt of one of his teammates and then James Brooks blocked it down.
This game was everything fans of this rivalry hoped for…well at least Sun Devils fans
About the Author
Written by Leslie Charles
Passionate sports diva with a love for Arizona State University that goes beyond no other. Go DEVILS!!!!!