Blocked punt dooms Wildcats

ASU turns it into TD as special teams settle another Territorial Cup
2012-11-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:05:28Z Blocked punt dooms WildcatsPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The call was rugby punt right.

The Arizona Wildcats, reeling from yet another momentum swing, had gone three-and-out after the Sun Devils scored to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

And now the Cats were giving the ball back - they hoped far downfield.

Chase Gorham snapped the ball to Kyle Dugandzic, who took a few steps right, hoping to kick a rolling punt toward midfield.

It was a couple yards west of where Alex Zendejas had those extra points blocked two years ago - the cursed north end zone that, perhaps mercifully, will be completely overhauled with a new facility by the time next season begins.

In a 41-34 rivalry victory over the Wildcats, the Sun Devils did what the winner of the Territorial Cup seemingly always is able to do: They changed the game with special teams.

Momentum had already swung ASU's way before the punt - Matt Scott had fumbled while leading the UA down the field, contributing to an ASU tying touchdown.

With Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, the game's star, losing 2 yards on two runs with the game tied and about 7 minutes to go.

But the floodgates opened as quickly as the UA's line did on fourth-and-15 from the 20.

The Sun Devils broke through after the snap and rushed to the right.

Safety Kevin Ayers leaped to block the kick, and he got it.

The Arizona Stadium crowd gasped.

The ball spun at the 8-yard line, helplessly, before the next person to touch it deadened it.

Before the cardinal-and-navy faithful could breathe again, the Sun Devils regained the lead in a contest that had already swung twice.

In a blink - the next play - Cameron Marshall gave ASU a 34-27 lead with 5:34 to play on a run up the middle. Marshall had only 21 rushing yards on the entire game.

It marked Ayers' second blocked punt of the season - at Oregon State on Nov. 3, he earned a safety when deflecting the kick in the end zone.

Eight plays later, ASU defensive back Robert Nelson would intercept Matt Scott on fourth-and-6, returning the ball to the UA 2-yard line and all-but-sealing another thrilling Territorial Cup.

Another Territorial Cup, too, settled by a remarkable special teams play.

In 2009, ASU punt returner Kyle Williams took his eyes off a Keenyn Crier boot with 1:03 remaining and the game tied.

The ball bounced away from Williams, who had tied the game with a touchdown catch one minute earlier, and into the arms of UA gunner Mike Turner.

The UA set up for a field goal, which Zendejas made as the clock expired, to win 20-17.

Two years ago, Zendejas had two extra points blocked in a 30-29 double-overtime loss to ASU at Arizona Stadium. The first kick, a low line drive, was blocked with 27 seconds left and the game tied; the second, almost identical, happened with the Wildcats down one in the second extra OT.

Add Friday night's block to the list of memorable moments.

The Sun Devils gathered in the southwest corner of the stadium, holding the Territorial Cup and cheering with their gold-clad crowd.

It was a special win, for sure, based on special teams.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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