TEMPE - The next Arizona Wildcats coach, whoever he is and whenever he's hired, will invariably promise a clean slate. Rich Rodriguez or Mike Bellotti or some hotshot coordinator from some hotshot program will, without fail, talk about going forward, forgetting the past and moving on.
Maybe the new guy should remember Saturday.
Overmatched by a superior Arizona State team with its eyes set on winning a Pac-12 South title, the UA stood its ground, punched back and pulled off its most shocking win in years.
Backup quarterback Bryson Beirne found Juron Criner for a 23-yard touchdown with 5:18 remaining, Jourdon Grandon intercepted Brock Osweiler with 2 minutes left, Shaquille Richardson made the play of his life and the UA held on for a 31-27 win at Sun Devil Stadium.
"It's awesome for our seniors, and it's a good foundation to build off of for next season," coach Tim Kish said. "It's a great win for the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson."
The victory was Arizona's first on the road since Oct. 30, 2010, when it defeated UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) saw its chances of winning the Pac-12 South fade.
The Wildcats (3-8, 2-7) pulled off the upset in the most improbable way, scoring two touchdowns in the final 10:25 and surviving when Osweiler threw - twice - into the end zone with mere seconds left. Jamal Miles couldn't make a play in the end zone with 4 minutes left, and Osweiler's do-or-die pass to Mike Willie on the game's final play was deflected by Richardson.
Arizona's rally began when Foles drove the team 94 yards in seven plays, connecting with Gino Crump for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut Arizona State's lead to 27-24. Crump, a senior transfer from West Virginia, dodged or broke a half-dozen tackles before cutting back toward the middle of the field and cruising in for a score.
Arizona then made a stop and, improbably, took the lead. Foles and running back Ka'Deem Carey drove the Wildcats past midfield. With Arizona at the 35, disaster struck. Foles tweaked his back as he handed off to Keola Antolin and remained on the ground for several minutes. Beirne, a little-used backup from Honolulu, entered the game in a caretaker's role. He handed off to Antolin on his first play, then found Criner - the UA's top receiver - on a screen. Making the kind of play that has defined his stellar career, Criner dodged and deked his way to a 23-yard touchdown.
"I was grateful for the opportunity. I was grateful to succeed," Beirne said. "All I had was catch the ball and throw it to Juron, and he did the rest."
Foles was stellar in his final Territorial Cup game, completing 35 of 51 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Criner caught nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, and Crump added six catches for 69 yards and a score. Carey ran for 92 yards and caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Osweiler, meanwhile, flashed bright and hot - but made mistakes.
Richardson intercepted him in the first quarter, returning the ball 40 yards to midfield. Grandon appeared to intercept a pass just before halftime, but the play was overturned following a video review.
No matter - as ASU drove to take the lead with 2 minutes remaining, Grandon made him pay. The Wildcats' redshirt freshman defensive back intercepted Osweiler at the UA 14 - and ran. By the time he was tackled at Arizona State's 46, more time was ticking off the clock.
"We could go 0-10, but this would still be our biggest goal - to take the Territorial Cup back," Grandon said. "This finished our season off."And, by then, the UA's kicking troubles were a thing of the past.
John Bonano missed two of his three field goal attempts, and Kyle Duganzic - charged with pinning the Sun Devils inside their 5-yard line late - instead punted through the back of the end zone.
Arizona's strong finish bookended with a surprising start. The Wildcats received the opening kickoff and put together one of the better drives of their season. Foles found Criner for 48 yards, moving to ASU's 1. After a few stuffed runs and a fortuitous pass interference call on the Sun Devils, Antolin plowed in a 1-yard scoring run. Arizona State drove past midfield on its first drive before Osweiler, misreading a UA coverage, was intercepted by Richardson. Arizona then drove 49 yards in five plays, with Carey punctuating with an 11-yard catch-and-run from Foles.
The Wildcats were outgained, 548 yards to 494 yards, but controlled the time of possession and forced three turnovers.
Arizona stormed the field following the win, waving their Block "A" flag before tussling with the Sun Devils. Wisely, a handful of Cats ran to their fans in the corner of the end zone.
For five blissful minutes, the team with nothing to cheer about celebrated.
"It's just, I can't even describe it right now," center Kyle Quinn said. "At the end of the game, for it to come down to 4 seconds left, defense makes a stand like that.
"We came out and we fought tonight for 60 minutes. Just winning it on the road makes it that much better."
On StarNet: See more photos from the Territorial Cup game at azstarnet.com/gallery
• What: Louisiana-Lafayette at Arizona
• When: 2 p.m., Saturday
• TV: None
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)