Excerpt from UA graduate Shane Dale's book "Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert"
The 1974 game closely mirrored the defensively oriented Duel in the Desert in Tucson four years earlier, as the Cats and Devils battled to a scoreless tie through three quarters.
"Sooner or later, something was going to happen, and the breaks were going to go to our side. We never lost faith that we were going to win that game," said UA defensive end Rex Naumetz (1971-74).
"On offense, we had (quarterback) Bruce Hill, we had 'T' Bell, we had (wide receiver) Scotty Piper - we had a very, very good offense with a lot of speed, so we could have scored from anywhere on the field at any time. And when we finally did score, it was our job to make sure there was no retaliatory score coming back."
UA left guard Jay Bledsoe (1972-74) said head coach Jim Young's intense practices allowed the Wildcats to do something that year that very few teams ever did against the Devils under Frank Kush.
"We outhit them, which was abnormal for ASU," he said. "I think both defenses were good enough to win that game, but our offense was a little sounder than them. They could not throw the ball to save themselves, and we shut down their running game cold.
"If Kush couldn't run the ball on you, his offense started to fall apart because he couldn't fall back on his passing game. (All-WAC defensive tackle) Mike Dawson dominated the line of scrimmage that game."
Halfway through the fourth quarter, UA linebacker and Tucson native Mark Jacobs intercepted a pass by first-year ASU quarterback Dennis Sproul on the Sun Devil half of the field. Three plays later, Wildcat kicker Lee Pistor scored the first points of the game, giving UA a 3-0 lead.
ASU failed to respond offensively, and Arizona halfback Willie Hamilton scored the only touchdown of the game late in the fourth to ice the Wildcats' 10-0 win.
After nearly a decade of frustration and futility against their northern neighbors, the Wildcats not only broke through with a win in the Duel; they shut the Devils out for the first time in 21 years.
"I was very confident that our defense was going to keep them from scoring because we knew our players, and we were very confident. We felt great about it," Naumetz said. "On the other hand, I felt we had a very good offense, and I was very confident that our team would be able to punch something in."
The victory wasn't enough to get UA a bowl berth or even the WAC title - BYU took that honor in '74. But knowing that it would be BYU that would be invited to the Fiesta Bowl, UA defensive back Joe O'Sullivan (1973-75) said he and his teammates treated the ASU matchup as their bowl game.
"The coaching staff made beating that team that year one of the primary goals," he said. "That almost became our bowl game, because I think that year, BYU actually beat us in Provo, and they made it to the Fiesta Bowl, and we were hoping to go to the Sun Bowl, but we didn't have an expectation of that. So beating (ASU) became our bowl game, and I think we felt very confident throughout that game that we would win."
In O'Sullivan's mind, the win allowed Tucson, which was being dwarfed in population and economic growth by Phoenix and its growing suburbs, to regain a lost sense of pride.
"I think the ASU-UA rivalry in the '70s really fell along the lines of the way that Tucson people think of Phoenix," he said. "Tucson people think of themselves as the smaller town, much like San Diego does with Los Angeles: It's a smaller, Podunk town - it's ugly - and Phoenix is big, has pro sports (teams) and all that kind of stuff.
"And so I think UA people had a chip on their shoulder toward ASU, not only because of ASU's record but because they represented Phoenix, too."