ASU’s Comeback Bid Rained Out in Stillwater

STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA – Arizona State’s first road game of the season ended in defeat as the Sun Devils fell to Oklahoma State 34-17 Saturday night.

“Obviously, disappointing for us,”  ASU head coach Herm Edwards said after the game. “I thought we gave ourselves a chance…but you can’t play from behind on the road. They’re a good football team.”

Inside raucous Boone Pickens Stadium in front of 55,509 hyped fans, the Sun Devils made themselves right at home in the opening quarter.

Following a Cowboys punt, quarterback Emory Jones led the Sun Devil offense on a crisp, well-engineered opening drive which ended in a Carter Brown 27-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was a Xazavien Valladay 42-yard run off right tackle.

The teams would swap punts most of the first quarter before Sanders got the Pokes’ high-tempo offense rolling. However, a diving interception by redshirt senior linebacker Kyle Soelle, who had a team-high 10 first-half tackles. thwarted the drive deep in ASU territory and the Devils led 3-0 heading to the second quarter.

The Cowboys seized momentum early in the second quarter after Valladay fumbled on third-and-short, and OSU recovered at the ASU 37. Mike Gundy’s offense methodically moved the ball, mostly on the ground. Junior running back Dominic Richardson capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. After the successful PAT, OSU led 7-3. Richardson rushed for 37 yards on four attempts on the scoring drive.

Following a beautiful 49-yard punt from ASU sophomore Eddie Czaplicki, Sanders and Richardson went to work again. OSU, aided by an ill-advised Joe Moore personal foul penalty, marched 96 yards on 11 plays, punctuated by a pretty six-yard Sanders touchdown run on a sprint option to wide side of the field.

The Pokes would add a late field goal and took a commanding 17-3 lead into halftime.

ASU hurt themselves with first half penalties, four for 50 yards, and no success on third down (0-7).

“It’s hard to win games when you can’t convert third downs,” Jones lamented. “We just need to look back at the film and get better.”

The first offensive possession of the second half mirrored the first – moving the ball efficiently against OSU’s aggressive defense. Jones hit Giovanni Sanders over the middle for a beautiful 73-yard catch and run. Valladay capped the four-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard rushing score.

As rain began to fall, Carter Brown’s 48-yard field goal sailed wide left, ending a once-promising third quarter ASU scoring opportunity.

Following a Cowboys’ field goal, the teams swapped three-and-outs and then the ASU found its’ footing. Jones and wide receiver Elijhah Badger connected on a clutch 3rd-and-18 play for 20 yards, and then again for a 21-yard pass play as Badger beat the OSU secondary. The eight-play, 85-yard drive made it 20-17.

However, all ASU momentum was lost as Gundy dialed up a flea-flicker inside Sun Devil territory and Sanders executed it beautifully off the busted coverage and just like that, the margin was pushed back to 10, 27-17.

“I think we did a good job at first,” Soelle said of containing Sanders. “But their tempo got to us.”

Another blown defensive assignment put the final nail in the Devils’ coffin after Sanders hit wide receiver Ollie Sanders in stride and he ran untouched into the end zone.

“You gotta grow from this as a football team,” Edwards explained. “I take my hat off to [his players]. They played hard.”

ASU returns home to play Eastern Michigan on September 17th at Sun Devil Stadium.