High scores have been a staple of the Territorial Cup for pretty much a decade but points were at a premium in this year’s edition as Arizona State used a big third quarter run to secure a 24-14 win over rival Arizona and keep the sport’s oldest rivalry trophy in Tempe for a third straight season.
Leading the way was none other than veteran tailback Eno Benjamin, who did most of his damage coming out of the halftime break in notching 168 yards and two touchdown runs. The breakout came after a fairly quiet first half in which his biggest highlight was otherwise blocking a defender all the way, quite literally, onto a bench on the sidelines.
Freshman QB Jayden Daniels was thankful for the efforts of his tailback on an otherwise average night passing, following up his heroics against Oregon to post only 104 yards through the air. Wideout Brandon Aiyuk had a quiet night as well with just five catches for 67 yards.
The disappointing result in the game capped off a similarly disappointing season for the Wildcats. Khalil Tate got the start at quarterback and posted some good numbers (228 yards, 2 TD passing, 78 yards rushing) that were otherwise spoiled by a trio of mistakes (three interceptions). Jamarye Joiner was a nice highlight at least for UA with seven catches for 140 yards and both of the team’s trips to the end zone.
Still, 4-8 in Kevin Sumlin’s second season in Tucson with a pair of losses to the school up the road isn’t exactly what fans had in mind when the former Texas A&M coach was hired and will likely result in a lengthy offseason of soul-searching and plenty of changes before a hot seat-fueled 2020 rolls around.
That is not the case for Herm Edwards and company, who have continued to show progress with an extremely young team. Though the Sun Devils didn’t wind up putting up the kinds of offensive performances we’re used to seeing in this game, that doesn’t matter in the end given that they, well, played to win it no matter what the path was to a victory. That will surely bring a smile to their coach’s face over the coming weeks as the Territorial Cup remains in ASU hands once again.