TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The question of whether Herm Edwards will continue as Arizona State’s coach has been answered.
There’s no debating it now. Athletic director Ray Anderson told the team that Edwards will be back after the Sun Devils won their fifth straight against rival Arizona. Edwards isn’t retiring, either.
Jayden Daniels accounted for three touchdowns, Jack Jones returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown and Arizona State beat rival 38-15 on Saturday.
“The day I don’t have the energy to walk up those stairs, I’m going to walk back down,” Edwards said. “I’m the coach. I’m going to be the coach.”
The Sun Devils (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) won in a blowout a year ago, but needed a big second half in the rematch to pull away. Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for a 48-yard score and Jones capped it with his second big play of the game.
The Territorial Cup will remain in Tempe with the Sun Devils’ longest winning streak in the series since taking nine straight from 1966-73.
“They said they were going to punch us in the mouth,” Daniels said. “We saw who got punched in the mouth and who got the cup at the end of the day.”
Arizona (1-11, 1-8) wanted a bit of revenge after losing 70-7 at home to Arizona State last season. The Wildcats moved the ball well in the first half and Will Plummer had a career day, throwing for 346 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona lost its payback bid by struggling in the red zone and with too many costly mistakes to end a trying injury-filled first season under coach Jedd Fisch.
“If there was a foxhole to climb into, I would want it to be with this team,” Fisch said. “They have battled, scrapped, clawed, never quit under very difficult circumstances.”
It started off well, with Plummer picking apart Arizona State’s defense throughout the first half.
The Wildcats are the worst team in the Pac-12 at converting red-zone opportunities into touchdowns and were at it again: three deep first-half drives, three field goals.
Plummer also was stripped on a sack by Jones that Arizona State’s Tyler Johnson recovered at Arizona’s 1. Rachaad White ran it in the next play to give Arizona State a 14-9 halftime lead.
“The fumble, he’s (Plummer) so tough and so physical, but at some point you just have to say the down is over, just tuck the ball away and move one,” Fisch said. “We can’t fumble the ball away for two scores; one fumble, one pick.”
Arizona State’s offense, which sputtered most of the first half, revved up quickly with Daniels’ scrambling, 48-yard TD run on the fourth play of the third quarter. He then hit Pearsall on a second 14-yard TD, this time a back-shoulder throw.
Arizona’s Michael Wiley turned 6-yard swing pass into a touchdown by fighting through two defenders to reach the pylon, but the Wildcats continued to get in their own way after that.
Jones sealed it by stepping in front of a receiver and returning the interception for an 87-yard touchdown.
Missed red-zone opportunities have plagued Arizona all season and played a big role again on Saturday. The Wildcats went into the game with just 11 touchdowns on 34 trips inside the 20 this season.
Arizona State played well on both sides of the ball in the second half to pull away and win the biggest game on the schedule every year.
Arizona had numerous bizarre miscues.
The Wildcats were called for holding in the end zone on punt, resulting in a safety. That play came after punt returner Michael Wiley pinned Arizona at its own 3 after making an illegal fair catch signal.
On an Arizona State 2-point conversion, Arizona called timeout because it only had 10 players on the field. The Wildcats then sent 10 players back out and the Sun Devils converted.
The Wildcats also were called for a rare delay of game on defense.
Arizona and Arizona State entered Saturday’s game among the most-penalized teams in the FBS.
The trend continued in the rivalry game, including several unsportsmanlike penalties and an ejection of Arizona ().
Arizona State had 10 penalties and Arizona was flagged 12 times for 96 yards. Both teams also had other penalties negated because of multiple infractions on the same play.
Arizona heads into the offseason with several underclassmen returning on offense, but will lose several key defensive players, including four players on their front seven.
Arizona State is headed to a bowl game for the third time in four seasons.
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