Saturday, November 28, 2009
Heartbreak for Williams, Arizona State
By ESPN.com staff
Senior Kyle Williams transformed from hero to goat for Arizona State in what might be the most excruciating second of his life.
Williams, just over a minute after hauling in a diving touchdown reception that tied the Sun Devils with arch-rival Arizona late in the fourth quarter, muffed a fair catch on a punt, which set up the Wildcats game-winning field goal.
Arizona won 20-17 on a 32-yard chip shot from Alex Zendejas as time expired, but even the last-second finish failed to encompass the emotions of this one.
Start with Williams, who caught nine passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. For much of the day, he was the best player on the field.
Then there's maligned ASU senior quarterback Danny Sullivan, who came off the bench and completed 14 of 28 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He and Williams did nearly all their damage in the second half, when Arizona State charged back from a 14-0 halftime deficit.
After the Sun Devils tied the score with 2:09 left, they forced Arizona to go three and out. All the momentum was in their favor with just over a minute remaining.
On the ensuing punt, Williams signaled for a fair catch. He could have let the ball hit the ground. But he tried to catch it in the face of charging tacklers. The ball tipped off his fingers and was recovered on the first bounce by reserve cornerback Mike Turner on the Sun Devils 22-yard line.
The Wildcats ran three plays. And then kicked the field goal.
Williams was inconsolable. Bet there are even a few Wildcats fans who can feel for the guy.
And Sullivan was denied a chance at redemption. He's been booed and benched and doubted, yet he nearly created magic in the last football game of his career.
It's been a tough year in Tempe.
Arizona State, which finishes 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-10, dominated the second half. But it lost.
Arizona improves to 7-4 and 5-3. The Wildcats can finished tied for second in the conference if they win at USC next weekend.