By Charles Renning
KEVIN B. KLAUS/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
ASU safety Jason Shivers nails UA running back Mike Bell on Friday. Shivers had two interceptions in the game.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday December 2, 2002
Season-ending loss to ASU ties Wildcats for last place in Pac-10
If the sting from a 34-20 loss to rival Arizona State wasn't enough pain for the Wildcats, the end to Arizona's worst season since joining the Pacific 10 Conference should be.
The Wildcats (4-8, 1-7 Pac-10) closed out their worst season since 1957 (1-8-1) Friday when they fell to the Sun Devils 34-20 at Arizona Stadium in college football's oldest rivalry, the Territorial Cup.
The Wildcats came out wearing the all-blue uniforms for the first time all year ÷ a fitting color, as after the game, much of the team left the field feeling blue.
Final Score: 34-20
|Score by quarter ||1 ||2 ||3||4||Final|
|ASU (8-5, 5-3) ||3 ||7 ||10 ||14 ||34|
|Arizona (4-8, 1-7) ||7 ||6 ||7 ||0 ||20|
|First downs ||27 ||20|
|Yards rushing ||166 ||62|
|Rushes ||49 ||25|
|Yards passing ||461 ||331|
|Completions-Attempts ||25-35 ||17-31|
|Penalties-Yards ||11-96 ||12-100|
|Time of possession ||36:00 ||24:00|
ASU: Andrew Walter 25-35 295 yards, 2 INTs
Arizona: Jason Johnson 17-31 269 yards, 3 INTs
ASU: Mike Williams 40-162, Hakim Hill 2-15
Arizona: Mike Bell 12-70, Gilbert Harris 4-14, Beau Carr 3-3
ASU: Mike Pinkard 6-80, Skyler Fulton 5-47, Derek Hagan 3-52
Arizona: Bobby Wade 6-109, Andrae Thurman 4-42, Lance Relford 3-59
Player of the Game
Mike Williams ÷ Williams, who lost his starting job 5 games into the season, got the starting tailback job Friday because of an injury to Cornell Canidate and took advantage of it. The junior had 40 carries for 162 yards and 4 touchdowns, the most for an ASU back since 1996.
Stat of the Game
The 47,005 fans was the smallest for an ASU game at Arizona Stadium since stadium expansion in 1976.
In front of 47,005 people ÷ the smallest crowd to watch an ASU-UA game in 28 years ÷ the Wildcats and Sun Devils played a sloppy game. Between both teams, there were eight turnovers, a missed extra point, a blocked punt and 23 penalties.
With both teams making crucial mistakes, it was the ASU rushing attack that made the difference in the Sun Devils' win.
ASU junior tailback Mike Williams led the way for the Sun Devils (8-5, 5-3 Pac-10), carrying the ball 40 times for 162 yards and 4 touchdowns.
"(ASU) gained control of the line of scrimmage and they gave him the ball a lot," said head coach John Mackovic about Williams's performance.
Williams was voted the game's MVP after posting ASU's second 100-yard rushing performance of the season.
Early in the fourth quarter, Williams put ASU up 27-20 on an 8-yard touchdown run. On the Wildcats' ensuing possession, senior quarterback Jason Johnson was picked off by ASU sophomore safety Jason Shiver. The pass was deflected by senior receiver Bobby Wade and fell into Shiver's hands at the Wildcat 36-yard line.
Following a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Sun Devils took over at the Arizona 21. ASU drove down and scored on a 4-yard run by Williams to increase its lead to 34-20, a hole the Wildcats could not dig themselves out of.
"The turnovers were the difference in the game," senior linebacker Ray Wells said. "Both sides of the ball made plays."
However, the Sun Devils were able to make the plays late in the game that propelled them to the win.
This was Arizona's 11th-consecutive Pac-10 loss at home, and the Wildcats are 3-13 in conference play during Mackovic's first two seasons in the desert.
Arizona had many opportunities to take control of the game early, but failed to do so.
With the Wildcats leading 7-3, Wells picked off an Andrew Walter pass and returned it to ASU's 2-yard line on the final play of the first quarter.
On the very next play, ASU defensive lineman Terrell Suggs forced a fumble from freshman running back Beau Carr, and the Sun Devils recovered. The Wildcats blew a chance at taking an early 14-3 lead, and instead, ASU drove 94 yards in 10 plays and went up 10-3.
The Wildcats found answers to the Sun Devils' scores in the first half and had leads of 13-10 and 20-13, but could never distance themselves from ASU.
"We have a lot of young players on this team," Mackovic said about the team's future. "We'll have a good group of young players on the field, and we'll have a good nucleus of seniors."
Senior Bobby Wade set the Arizona record for most catches in a season with 93. He finished his Wildcat career with a 6-catch, 109-yard performance...
ASU won the time-of-possession battle and held the ball for 12 more minutes than the Wildcats, including a 21-9 minute edge in the second half...
Suggs became the ASU sacks leader with a second-quarter sack of Johnson. He has 22 sacks this season, an NCAA record, and has 42 sacks for his career, the most by a Sun Devil. The junior said he will decide in the offseason if he will leave school early...
UA held Biletnikoff finalist Shaun McDonald to only one catch for 11 yards.