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Cardinals’ McSorley, Murphy Jr, Turner recall playing in 2017 Fiesta … – The Arizona Republic

Editor’s note: One in an occasional series of stories sharing Fiesta Bowl memories from those who played in or covered the annual bowl game.

Today: Trace McSorley, Byron Murphy Jr., Ezekiel Turner

Then (in respective order of players named): Quarterback, Penn State; cornerback, Washington, Scottsdale Saguaro alum; linebacker, Washington.

McSorley now: Formerly on the Cardinals practice squad. He was drafted by Baltimore in 2019 and had been with Arizona since November 2021.

Murphy now: Starting cornerback on the Cardinals, drafted by them in 2019.

Turner now: Signed as an undrafted free agent by Cardinals in 2018, third-string right inside linebacker.

McSorley and Penn State’s Fiesta Bowl stats: McSorley passed for 342 yards and two touchdowns, won the game’s Offensive MVP award, and Saquon Barkley rank for 137 yards on 18 carries, as Penn State beat Washington 35-28 on Dec. 30, 2017. The Nittany Lions finished the season No. 8 in the final AP poll.

Murphy, Turner and Washington’s Fiesta Bowl stats: Murphy had seven tackles, including two for loss, one pass defended, and an interception. Turner had three tackles.

Related: ESPN’s Dave Pasch gives his best memories covering Fiesta Bowl

What was the team’s reaction that you were playing in the Fiesta Bowl?

McSorley: “We were excited. I don’t remember what were the semifinal games were that year, but I know once we knew we weren’t gonna be in the playoffs, the Fiesta Bowl was high on our list as players for what we wanted to get into for a bowl game. And coming out here, the week was awesome. We had a great time in Scottsdale, the hotel we were staying at was awesome. It was the one right on the TPC course.”

Murphy: “Coming from Seattle back to Arizona was a big blessing for me. The whole experience was unique just because they know I’m from here, showing the guys where to go eat. We were right by the mall in (Scottsdale) Fashion Square, so just to show those guys where I’m from was amazing.”

Turner: “That year, we had gotten up to like (ranked) five in the country and then we lost to (Arizona State), we got upset by them. It was like later in the season, so it was like, “Damn!” We thought we got kicked out of New Year’s Six bowl contention, then we found out we got the Fiesta Bowl and we were all hyped about it. I think we were in the playoffs the year before that, my junior year. Then we had the same team, so we wanted to get in the big bowl.”

Have you ever discussed that game after becoming Cardinals teammates and playing at State Farm Stadium, the same venue as the Fiesta Bowl?

McSorley: “At one point (during the game) I was kind of scrambling and going to slide and Zeke hit me as I was going down. He got me pretty good, so when I first got here (to join the Cardinals), he brought that up that it was him.”

Related: Fiesta Bowl names Erik Moses, NASCAR’s first Black track president, executive director and CEO

What was the crowd makeup like between Penn State and Washington fans?

McSorley: “We always knew that Penn State was gonna travel really well. Our fans are all over and that definitely gave us confidence. We knew we were coming to the West Coast playing a West Coast team, still had the fan support behind us. I’m probably biased, I want to say the crowd was a little bit more Penn State, but it was still pretty split. There were times like there was a solid Washington crowd there when they were getting a couple points in the game. “

Murphy: “Just to be in that game, those bowl games always get turnt up. We played Penn State and their fans were just going crazy waving them white towels. …

“Penn State had a lot more fans, I’d say, but that game was so intense I ended up getting hurt but still finished the game. I just think that game was something to remember my whole life just because we back in Arizona. …

A look back: 1983 Fiesta Bowl team brought winning culture back to Arizona State football

What were the big moments that you remember about the game?

McSorley: “I remember the first touchdown we had, I threw like an inside fade to DaeShon Hamilton, that was like our first drive. And then late third quarter, they started to mount a comeback and I hit DaeSean again, same route on the other side of the field and that kind of put us up. Then we had a big third down or fourth down conversion that was late in the fourth quarter to extend the drive and run a little bit more time off the clock.”

“They had coach (Chris) Petersen who’s famous obviously with the Boise State and what they did in the (Fiesta) Bowl against Oklahoma (in 2007), and we were up by a touchdown at the end. So we knew all the tricks were gonna come out and they actually had it set up perfectly, and one of their receivers could’ve ran out of bounds and just chuck up a Hail Mary with, like, three seconds left. But he threw it back into the field to keep it going, I think it was the last play, and our linebacker picked it and won the game.”

Turner: “I think they were up on us, we came back at the end and made it look close, but they were up pretty much most of the game. It was a good experience though. That was like my first time experiencing Arizona through a week. The weather was different from what we were used to in Seattle. The game was fun, though. It was the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. They had a big tent with all the PlayStations in it and they gave us free PlayStations.”

Murphy: “All of them (former Saguaro teammates and their coach Jason Mohns) were there. That was the biggest thing, all my family, that’s who I kind of remember the most.”

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