TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- In a wildly unpredictable season during a wildly unpredictable year, one constant remains.
Arizona State beating Arizona.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than a minute into the game and never looked back in a historic 70-7 victory. It was the fourth consecutive season the Sun Devils have topped their archrival, a feat they hadn't accomplished since 1975-1978.
ASU's 70 points are the most either team has scored in the 94 meetings between the two schools.
"First time in my life I've been a part of a game like that," said ASU co-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who has been coaching at the college or NFL levels since 1981.
ASU running back Rachaad White rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns, including a 93-yard score, to earn the Bob Moran Most Outstanding Player award. On defense, ASU forced seven Wildcat turnovers.
The Sun Devils move to 1-2 in this COVID-19-shortened season, while the loss drops Arizona to 0-5. Friday's defeat was the 12th consecutive for the Wildcats, dating back to last season.
“It was a relief.”
The opening kickoff drove ASU returner D.J. Taylor eight yards deep into the endzone. Taylor made the catch and began running the ball out, prompting ASU co-defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis to ask head coach Herm Edwards over the headsets, "What is he doing?"
As Taylor cut to the right sideline at the 5-yard line, Edwards replied, "He’s about to score a touchdown. Watch."
Taylor raced the distance untouched to give ASU a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game, setting the stage for the record-setting night.
"Everybody kept telling me, 'You gotta return one.' I told them I got them," Taylor said. "Last week, I almost had one. I wanted to do it this time, first play."
Now THAT'S how you start a rivalry game 💥 pic.twitter.com/8QoiuEbzHR— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 12, 2020
“We had to start out fast to match their energy,” Edwards said. “But I never imagined a 108-yard touchdown.”
It would only get worse for the Wildcats from there.
On the second play of Arizona's opening drive, Gary Brightwell fumbled and ASU's Darien Butler recovered at the 4-yard line. On the next play, DeaMonte Trayanum ran it in to give ASU a 14-0 lead just 56 seconds into the game.
Arizona quarterback Grant Gunnell was intercepted by Kyle Soelle on the next drive, but the Wildcats escaped harm when Cristian Zendejas missed a 40-yard field goal.
That respite was brief.
The Wildcats were stuffed on fourth-and-1 on their next drive at their own 41, and ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels scored on a 20-yard run six plays later.
"The defense really put us on the board for our first three scores when you think about it because we got turnovers," Edwards said.
Arizona managed to get a consistent drive going to open the second quarter behind the tough running of Brightwell and Michael Wiley. However, Brightwell fumbled on first-and-goal from the ASU 2-yard line, and ASU's Michael Matus recovered. Two plays later, White burst free for a 93-yard touchdown.
"We just had a good gameplan," White said. "Our coach preaches to take what they give you because you never know. A 93-yarder, the chance comes, you gotta make the best out of it."
On the second play of Arizona's ensuing drive, Jermayne Lole sacked Gunnell, forcing another fumble that Matus recovered. Daniels then connected with Ricky Pearsall for a 31-yard touchdown to make it 35-0 just five minutes into the second quarter.
After another fourth down stop by ASU's defense, Daniyel Ngata scored a 3-yard touchdown to make it 42-0.
Gunnell was then benched in favor of Will Plummer, who led the Wildcats on their lone scoring drive of the day, capped by a 20-yard Wiley touchdown run.
Despite the massive lead, Edwards was adamant that his team remain focused. He recalled how the team acted when they held a lead in the season opener against USC, a game they eventually lost.
“This was the hardest I’ve ever coached on the sideline," Edwards said. "It was telling players to not get comfortable. We have to finish the game. It’s not over. I walked up and down that sideline, and if I saw a guy smiling, they couldn’t even smile.”
White added two more rushing scores early in the third quarter to push it to 56-7.
"We knew we could run the football on them, and we did that," said ASU offensive coordinator Zak Hill.
Another big play would close out the scoring later in the quarter. With the Wildcat defense pressed up to stop the run, Daniels connected with tight end Curtis Hodges for a 74-yard touchdown.
"The perfect call at the right time," said Daniels, who completed nine of his 11 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
Arguably the best moment of the night came midway through the fourth quarter.
Running back He Peizhang, AKA Jackson He, is the only Chinese-born player in the FBS, and after a long and remarkable journey, walked on at Arizona State last year.
In the fourth quarter, he was able to make his debut. He ran four times for seven yards, including the game's final touchdown.
“It’s unreal. It’s unbelievable," He said.
"It was fun to watch all the players surround him after he scored," said Edwards, who gave He a game ball.
He, who had his name in Chinese on his jersey, hopes that he will inspire players back in China to pursue football.
“I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to be the first one," He said. "I am the first one, but I am not the last one."
It was a touching capper for a historic night for the Sun Devils.
After a season delayed twice, then derailed by three straight COVID-19-related cancelations, Friday's win was a cathartic moment for the Sun Devil program.
"I was happy for our coaching staff and our players," Edwards said. "What they’ve gone through this past year...you can’t even imagine. There’s no playbook for it. I was just happy to see these guys win a football game.”
They won big, and will continue to hold on to the Territorial Cup for another year.
The Next Step
ASU will have at least one more game in this abbreviated 2020 season. The Pac-12 will announce next week's matchup sometime this weekend.