Arizona football: Six seniors that stood out against ASU
Wide Receiver Shawn Poindexter (19) gets tackled by an ASU player during the game on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Arizona Stadium. ASU beat UA and won the territorial cup with a final score of 41-40.
Arizona collapsed with its postseason hopes on the line. The Wildcats fell 41-40 to their in-state rivals Saturday despite holding a 19-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
The 2018 Territorial Cup was earned by the school from up north, but the ‘Cats seniors did their best to bring the nation’s longest-standing rivalry trophy back to Tucson. Josh Pollack’s last-second kick may have sailed wide right, but the blame in this game lands elsewhere.
A pair of turnovers in the game’s final five minutes completely shifted the outcome. Paired with questionable offensive play calling on the ‘Cats final offensive drive, Arizona was simply doomed down the stretch. There were several senior studs dressed in red, though, on this beautiful November day. Without these players, Arizona wouldn't have had stood a chance.
The 6-foot-5 product from Centennial High School in Peoria, Ariz., has utilized his extra year of eligibility to the best of his ability this season. In Arizona’s heartbreaking loss to Arizona State, Poindexter left his mark on the field, as well as in the UA record books.
Late in the second quarter of Saturday’s contest, Poindexter made a catch for the ages, missing a defender in the back corner of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown grab, his eleventh of the 2018 campaign, which tied the Arizona single-season school record. Poindexter’s acrobatic catch came after Tate eluded the Sun Devils' rush and set his feet to heave a prayer into the air, ultimately extending the Wildcats' lead to 19-7.
Poindexter’s potential as a true No. 1 receiver has been highlighted this season thanks to his absurd catch radius and ability to bring down contested throws. Without Poindexter’s clutch hands, the ‘Cats wouldn’t have converted on third and long on the game’s final drive, deep in their own territory.
Brown may not have found the end zone in this game, but that didn’t prevent him from causing Arizona State’s defense a serious headache. With just over a minute remaining before halftime, Brown corralled a pass from Khalil Tate and raced across midfield for a 26-yard gain.
The simple, yet difficult to defend catch-and-run has been a trademark of Brown’s career – this time it set the Wildcats up for another field goal attempt before the intermission. Even when Brown wasn’t making plays in this game, he was challenging the Sun Devils defensive backs, often stretching the field and forcing the front seven to play back on their heels. He added a heart-stopping punt return, weaving through white jerseys for 19 yards, more than halfway through the third quarter, gifting the Wildcat offense with solid starting field position.
Ellison kicked off Senior Day the right way, reeling in a 28-yard touchdown catch with 3:33 left in the first quarter. Arizona’s first touchdown of the game silenced most of the Sun Devil fans throughout the stadium. It also highlighted Ellison’s sure-hands.
Tate’s pass came zipping in over the middle of the field and needed enough heat on the ball to zoom by the faces of several defenders. Ellison’s impressive hand-eye coordination was on full display as he nabbed his fifth touchdown catch of the season. Later in the game, Ellison hauled in an eight-yard jump pass from Tate to nearly double the Sun Devils' scoring total, 40-21. Tate looked Ellison’s way multiple times down the stretch, but unfortunately the two failed to connect.
Boles has been Arizona’s best defensive lineman over the last two seasons, and he was quick to show why in this year’s Territorial Cup. Arizona’s defensive anchor, who also played under defensive coordinator Marcel Yates while the two were paired together at Boise State University, helped erase Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin from the first half of the game.
His nastiness at the point of attack set the tone for the ‘Cats defense and generated the confidence that Yates’ unit needed to shut down a previously dynamic rushing attack. As the game wore on, the Sun Devil offense managed to find slightly more success on the ground, but it didn’t come without a handful of negative plays – caused largely by Boles' big body in the middle of the defense.
The senior kicker has experienced his fair share of ups and downs as a Wildcat, but it’s hard to argue that Pollack didn’t save his best for last. Arizona scored first in the 2018 Territorial Cup behind a 29-yard boot by Pollack and never looked back – well, until the game’s waning moments.
Pollack added three more successful tries to his resume against the Sun Devils, nailing kicks from 23, 36 and 40-yards out. Although sophomore kicker Lucas Havrisik often replaces him when the distance is deemed too long, Pollack didn’t have to share his kicking duties during Saturday afternoon’s one-point loss.
Instead, Pollack got the chance to win the game with 17 seconds left on the clock. Pollack’s four made field goals improved his season total to 13, connecting 86 percent of the time, and marked a new single-season high for his career. But, he’ll largely be remembered for the game’s first miss, even if the score shouldn’t have come down to a go-ahead kick.
Klumph’s brief time as a Wildcat came to an end on Saturday, but his contributions won’t be forgotten. The graduate-transfer punter was an instant upgrade to Arizona’s special teams unit this season and his expertise booting the ball away was in full effect when his number was called. Although his leg wasn’t featured in a primary role this game, a good sign of offensive success, he still made an impact in the 2018 Territorial Cup.
Klumph’s first punt was pinned down inside Arizona State’s five-yard line. His second sailed 57 yards down the field, reversing field position for the ‘Cats in a crucial moment. Klumph averaged 49.3 yards on his three punts, a facet of the game that Arizona could have desperately used in this matchup last season. It’s likely hard for the team to end the season on such a low note, just one win shy of becoming bowl eligible, but Klumph should feel satisfied knowing he excelled with the ball in his hands.
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