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Arizona Wildcats' turnovers turn cheerful third quarter into gloomy loss

The Arizona State Sun Devils used fourth-quarter turnovers to drop the Arizona Wildcats on Friday in Arizona Stadium.

Christian Petersen

As rivalry games go, and especially as those in the Duel in the Desert, the script of the season leading into the final regular season game won't hint at much to do with the task at hand.

The ASU Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats went back and forth in the 2012 battle for the Territorial Cup, but Matt Scott turnovers gave Todd Graham's squad touchdowns as it beat UA, 41-34, in Tucson on Friday night.

Scott finished with 19-of-39 yards, 230 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions and a fumble, while Ka'Deem Carey playing sparingly in the second half because of a shoulder injury or collarbone bruise didn't help. Carey put up 172 yards on 25 carries on the night.

The Wildcats first scored on a 1-yard Carey burst on their second possession of the game as Arizona went early and often to the sophomore running back.

Bonano missed the point after, a seemingly bad sign for the night to come. Special teams issues were only part of it by game's end.

Carey earned 19 carries in the first half while eclipsing the 100-yard mark, and Daniel Jenkins took over in the second half while Carey worked out an apparent shoulder injury.

Jenkins rushed for 22 yards on 78 carries and Carey attempted a comeback in the second half but couldn't be his usual, productive self.

Scott struggled mightily in the first half, hitting 7-of-18 passes and throwing two interceptions. Both resulted in second-quarter touchdowns as ASU went ahead 14-6, but Bonano hit a 33-yard field as time expired before the half to see UA trail 14-9.

Scott and company opened the third quarter with force. While ASU's Jon Mora hit a 26-yard field goal less than three minutes into the third, Scott threw touchdown passes to Austin Hill and Garic Wharton for two scores in the heart of the second, and John Bonano ran in a fake extra point after the second touchdown catch to give Arizona a 24-17 lead.

Bonano snuck in a 23-yard field goal later in the third to give Arizona a 27-17 lead, and Mora answered early in the fourth with his own field goal, but then the turnover virus struck. Scott fumbled while attempting to leap a blocker, and Marion Grice -- 18 carries for 156 yards on the night -- rushed it in for a quick ASU score to tie the game at 27.

A blocked punt at Arizona own 15-yard line led to another ASU touchdown, and then a Scott interception returned 66 yards to UA's 2-yard line before another score with just less than three minutes remaining. The Wildcats would score on a quick drive but failed on a onside kick.

The loss brings a damper to what should have, could have, might have been a stellar season. The Stanford loss, the Oregon State loss and the showing against the Sun Devils on Friday all represented how close Arizona was, with just one more win, might've been a storybook season.

Luckily, a senior class led by Scott and an injured Dan Buckner can salvage the disappointment with a bowl game on the horizon.