Next up in our Sun Devil Spotlight series is a play that set the tone for one of the most memorable games in recent Sun Devil history.
Coming off a disappointing road loss to Illinois, ASU returned home to face their old nemesis, USC. The Trojans had beaten the Sun Devil 11 straight times, and with another loaded team and a No. 23 ranking in the polls, they were primed to make it an even dozen.
The game had just kicked off, with ASU taking possession after a touchback. A Brock Osweiler scramble had just converted a third and five, and the Sun Devils had a new set of downs at their own 30-yard line.
Showing a rare commitment to the run, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone called running back Cameron Marshall's number. The team came out in a three-wide receiver set, with Osweiler in the shotgun with Marshall to his right. Tight end Trevor Kohl was in tight next to left tackle Evan Finkenberg, with Jamal Miles split wide to the left. Gerell Robinson was in the slit to the right and Mike Willie split wide outside.
The play was a run to the left with Marshall, to be helped be a fake swing pass to Miles.
Miles went in motion to to the right, and was cutting behind Osweiler when the ball was snapped. Osweiler handed off immediately to Marshall running left.
Finkenberg cutting blocked inside on defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, taking him down and out of the play. Kohl threw a tremendous block, driving defensive end Nick Perry back and away from the play, eventually knocking Perry onto his back. Clearing that path was the critical moment of the play.
Left guard Mike Marcisz and center Garth Gerhart pulled left after the snap to led the way for Marshall. Marcisz made the first block on cornerback Torin Harris, and using his 112-pound advantage, smashed Harris to the ground. Gerhart sealed off the backside pursuit of linebacker Hayes Pullard, stopping him cold in his tracks as Marshall broke outside of Marcisz' block and turned upfield.
At that point, left defensive tackle Christian Tupou was following the play after disengaging from Andrew Sampson's block, but simply did not have the speed to catch Marshall, who was playing on a bad ankle. Safety Jawanza Starling sprinted over in pursuit and caught Marshall at the USC 25 yard line, but a powerful stiff arm from Marshall tossed Starling around to the ground, and Marshall then ran uncontested to the endzone as the crowd roared.
The touchdown provided the Sun Devils with a massive confidence boost and set the tone for the night. The Devils grabbed a 21-9 halftime lead, but USC rallied to take a brief 22-21 lead midway through the third quarter.
However, ASU stormed back to take the lead shortly thereafter, and sealed their first win over USC in over a decade with another of our spotlight plays.
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