Ryan Kealy threw two touchdown passes before leaving with an injury and backup John Leonard connected with Richard Williams on a 45-yard TD as Arizona State clinched a bowl berth, the conference's fifth postseason berth, and will play Wake Forest in the Aloha Bowl on Christmas Day.
Delvon Flowers ran for TDs of 4 and 38 yards, and Kealy threw a 51-yard bomb to Williams and a 28-yard score to Todd Heap. J.R. Redmond scored for Arizona State on a 10-yard run with 1:33 remaining. Keith Smith hit Dennis Northcutt with an 80-yard bomb and scored on a 12-yard run, Trung Canidate had an 80-yard scoring run and Northcutt returned a punt 81 yards for the Wildcats (6-6, 3-5).
Sean Keel, a freshman who missed a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half, banged the ball off the left upright after Northcutt's punt return cut Arizona's deficit to 28-20 with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
After Williams' second scoring catch, Smith and Canidate made big plays to move the ball to the 12-yard line, where Smith scored untouched on a draw, pulling Arizona within 35-27 with 8:23 left to play. However, after one more possession by each team, Arizona State drove 49 yards for the insurance score by Redmond.
Redmond had 112 yards on 23 carries, and Flowers had 103 on 15. Flowers' first score with 2:41 left in the first half tied the game at 14. It also interrupted a string of big-play scores that began with Williams' TD on a wide receiver screen 3:46 into the game. Canidate tied it with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter when he broke through on an off-tackle play and outran everyone to the end zone. It was the second-longest run of his career, matching one of his three rushing TDs last year against the Sun Devils. Canidate had a career-high 288 yards in that game. Northcutt gave the Wildcats the lead on the bomb from Smith midway through the second quarter. But Arizona State drove 87 yards in 10 plays to tie it, covering 39 yards on a Kealy-to-Williams pass and 22 on Flowers' first carry of the series.