Looking to make a statement in Seattle against No. 10 Washington, the ASU football program came up short in a 27-20 loss to the Huskies.
Purple Reign cast a haze over Arizona State on Saturday night, but it was a wave of yellow that stymied the Sun Devils in Seattle.
Seven penalties for 72 yards over the course of the game, notably a pair of personal foul calls on defensive backs Jalen Harvey and Chase Lucas, drained the life out of an ASU group that otherwise valiantly battled with a top-10 team.
“We’re still making mistakes. I think both of those penalties are uncalled for,” defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales said. “I think Jalen’s was too late and I think Chase’s was too late. I want them guys to go over there and get every piece they can… but that’s not smart.”
Trailing by one possession in the contest’s waning moments, Lucas was assessed his flag in the following a short gain by Huskies tailback Myles Gaskin, resetting the chains and ultimately giving Washington an opportunity to run out the clock.
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Entering as heavy underdogs, the Sun Devils cast rankings and storylines aside, challenging a Washington side that is considered by some to be a favorite to win the Pac-12.
Both teams came out of the gate at a break-neck pace. After an interception by Lucas on the first play from scrimmage, running back Eno Benjamin punched in a one-yard plunge six plays later.
The Huskies responded, marching 80 yards in less than four minutes to equalize on a Jake Browning touchdown to wideout Aaron Fuller. The senior threw for three scores and 202 yards, doing most of his damage in the first half.
Following 24 combined points scored in the first quarter, the Huskies slowed the game down, a methodical change of pace the Sun Devils did not adjust well to.
Browning thrived in run-pass option situations, bleeding down the clock while redshirt senior Manny Wilkins struggled to adapt showed through a lack of accuracy. Wilkins finished with 104 passing yards and a rushing touchdown.
“We didn’t throw it a lot, but that was part of the game plan,” Wilkins said. “I thought that we did some good things, I missed a couple of throws early on that their guys just made really good plays on.”
Nonetheless, ASU remained competitive by re-establishing the run game led by 106 yards from Eno Benjamin, who had rushed for 48 combined yards in the previous two weeks.
The revitalization of the ground game can be largely attributed to the presence of Trelon Smith and Nick Ralston in the backfield. Smith saw his first game action of the season, running for 45 yards on eight carries and Ralston showed promise at fullback after experimenting at linebacker from spring camp up until last week.
“The game plan was to establish the run, we knew that we could run the ball well,” Wilkins said. “He [Ralston] did a really good job. He came over early this week, coaches put him in there, told him what to do and he’s one of those guys you don’t have to tell him more than once.”
Down 20-13 to begin the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils continued to stick around, receiving timely defensive stops when the offense couldn’t find a consistent rhythm. Browning extended the Huskies lead to two possessions before Wilkins answered with his only score of the night with 2:54 to play, though ASU did not get the ball back.
Despite the outcome, coach Herm Edwards knew his team had a chance going into the final period of play.
“We wanted to get it into the fourth quarter and we felt that if we got it into the fourth quarter, we could make a play or two to win it,” Edwards said. “If you get in the fourth quarter and you go on the road, the more there is on the home team than the visiting team.”
Now 2-2 on the season with a loss in their Pac-12 opener, the Sun Devils shift gears towards Oregon State and a chance to get back to .500 in conference play.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.