for this game

Arizona State edges past Arizona in Desert Duel

Dec 2, 2007 - 6:35 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- It wasn't easy, but 13th-ranked Arizona State maintained its territorial supremacy and claimed a share of the Pac-10 Conference title with a 20-17 victory over in-state rival Arizona on Saturday.

Rudy Carpenter completed 20-of-37 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns to claim his third win over the Wildcats as a starter and keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe.

The Cup was first presented in 1899, making it the oldest rivalry trophy registered with the NCAA. The Sun Devils have won it in seven of the past nine seasons.

"I've been telling everybody this is the most important game of the year," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "It is the rivalry game, so that is how it will always be and has been every place I have been, because this is the one they remember."

Arizona State (10-2, 7-2 Pac-10) entered Saturday's contest needing a win and a loss by Southern California to advance to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1996.

But after USC defeated UCLA earlier in the day, the Sun Devils had only pride for which to play.

Arizona (5-7, 4-5) got on the board first on its second drive. Willie Tuitama completed all five passes on the 41-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 7:40 remaining in the first quarter.

Arizona State answered on its opening drive of the second quarter when Tryice Thompson hauled in a three-yard pass from Carpenter for his first career touchdown.

"I tell Rudy all the time that if he throws it, I am going to get it," Thompson said. "It was wonderful, but I wanted to act like I had been there before. I hate these cats, so for me to go out with a touchdown like that is something I will remember the rest of my life."

The Wildcats came right back down the field - moving the ball all the way to the Sun Devils' 18-yard line - before Tuitama was intercepted in the end zone by safety Troy Nolan.

Carpenter led the ensuing drive all the way down to the Arizona 1-yard line thanks to a leaping, 31-yard fingertip catch by Chris McGaha. Arizona State failed to gain one yard on the next three plays, settling instead for a 19-yard field goal by Thomas Weber.

"I was worried when we didn't get in," Carpenter said. "To be honest with you, I am very disappointed the way I played. I didn't play very well, especially when we got down to the goal line."

The Sun Devils again failed to get seven points from inside the 5-yard line on the opening possession of the second half, instead taking a 13-7 lead on Weber's 21-yard field goal. The kick tied a Pac-10 freshman record for most field goals by a freshman kicker in a season with 22.

Carpenter helped put the game away when he found Michael Jones for a 20-yard touchdown with 4:40 remaining in the game, giving Arizona State a 20-10 lead.

Arizona responded with a touchdown, but an onside kick with 26 seconds remaining was recovered by the Sun Devils.

"As a team, we're disappointed we didn't play better and certainly Arizona State had a lot to do with that," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "They kept our offense from getting any rhythm throughout the game and that was really the difference. It seemed like we couldn't make a play and they made them all."

Arizona State still has an outside shot at getting a bid to a Bowl Championship Series Bowl for the first time after claiming a share of the conference crown.

The Wildcats will have to settle for another bowl season at home, as they finish with a sub-.500 record. They have not played in a bowl game since 1998, the longest such streak for any team in the Pac-10.

"I love keeping UofA out of a bowl," Carpenter said. "I love doing it every year. They are our biggest rival and going into every year this is the game we look forward to."