Kyle Williams will be a footnote in the history of the Arizona-Arizona State football rivalry. But it took him just 59 seconds to transform from hero to goat.
Kyle Williams will be a footnote in the history of the Arizona-Arizona State football rivalry.
But it took him just 59 seconds to transform from hero to goat.
Williams played the biggest role in ASU’s rally from a 14-0 deficit, catching nine balls for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
The second score came on a fourth-and-12 pass from Danny Sullivan with 2:02 remaining, knotting the game at 17. The crowd was sent into delirium by the diving grab in the end zone, and after the Sun Devils held on defense, he waited to return a Keenyn Crier punt, ready to add to his lore.
And then, disaster struck.
Williams called for a fair catch but hesitated before going after the ball. When he changed his mind and pulled away it was too late, as the ball caromed up and off his body.
Arizona’s Mike Turner recovered the fumble on the ASU 22, setting up a game-winning field goal by Alex Zendejas.
“I think he was just indecisive on what he wanted to do,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “Obviously if you look at it now he should have let it go, but that’s easy to say sitting where I’m at. He was just trying to be aggressive, trying to make a play.”
Williams was visibly shaken both after the play and as he walked off the field following the loss.
After the muff, Williams placed his hands on his head, in disbelief at what just occurred.
Those feelings turned to anger after the game as he fumed while walking into the locker room, being comforted by wide receivers coach Eric Yarber.
“That’s my best friend,” quarterback Danny Sullivan said. “I just feel so sorry for him that it had to happen that way.”
It was Williams who sparked Arizona State’s second-half rally.
He had a 53-yard punt return in the third quarter that led to a Thomas Weber field goal.
Then he closed the deficit to four points by catching an intermediate pass from Sullivan and sprinting to the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown with 11:54 remaining.
But he also made a mistake after that play, taking his helmet off on the field of play to draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
With the Sun Devils trailing by five, it eliminated the possibility of trying for a two-point conversion to cut the lead to a field goal.
Williams seemed to make up for that flub with the touchdown catch near the end of the game, but the ultimate gaffe came less than a minute later.
Williams finished the season with the team lead in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns but fell to 2-2 against Arizona and watched helplessly from the sidelines as his collegiate career came to a close.
“He didn’t deserve to have it end like that,” Erickson said.