SALT LAKE CITY - The Arizona State Sun Devils fell to the Utah Utes 34-18 Saturday night amid windy, rainy conditions in Salt Lake City. While the ASU special teams was dynamic and the defense stood out, the ASU offense could not move the football against a stout Utah defense.
The Sun Devils started slow on offense, amassing just 91 yards of offense in the first half. Both of their scores in the first half were set up by special teams.
Following a two-yard touchdown pass from Travis Wilson to Harris Handley that put Utah up 7-0, Time White returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. It was White's first career kickoff return touchdown and ASU's first touchdown off a kickoff return since 2012.
Following the ASU score, the Sun Devil defense forced a three-and-out and De'Chavon Hayes returned the Tom Hackett punt 48 yards to the Utah eight-yard line. The Sun Devils were stuffed on three plays and Zane Gonzalez booted in a 34-yard field goal to give ASU a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Utah retook the lead early in the second quarter when Wilson found Kenneth Scott for his second passing touchdown of the half, this one from 11 yards to give Utah a 14-10 lead with 13:49 left to play in the half. The two teams traded punts the rest of the quarter and the Utes took a 14-10 lead into the half.
The Sun Devil's offensive struggles continued to start the second half as ASU punted on its first two drives of the third quarter. Despite the offense's struggles, the ASU defense continued to keep them in the game by containing Devontae Booker and getting consistent pressure on Wilson.
Midway through the third quarter the ASU offense found some life. On their third drive of the quarter, Bercovici found Devin Lucien for gains of 28 and 42 yards on back-to-back plays to give ASU a first and goal at the Utah 10-yard line. However, the ASU drive stalled once again and Gonzalez knocked through a 27-yard field goal to bring ASU within one, 14-13, with 5:04 left in the third quarter.
The Sun Devils finally received some good luck on the ensuing kickoff. The Utes attempted a trick play in the end zone where one of the return men threw a pass across the end zone to the other in an attempt to fool the Sun Devils. However, Utah threw the ball forward and received a penalty for an illegal forward pass. The foul occurred in the end zone, resulting in a safety to put ASU up 15-14.
Following the free kick, Sun Devils drove 38 yards in nine plays and Gonzalez nailed his third field goal of the game. This one from 44 yards to give ASU a 18-14 lead with 90 seconds left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started with Utah pinning ASU back inside its five-yard line when Hayes fair caught a pass at the four. The Sun Devils went three-and-out and Matt Haack (uncharacteristically) shanked a punt giving Utah the ball at the ASU 32-yard line.
Three plays later, the Utes punched the ball into the end zone for the first time on the ground as Devontae Booker took an option pitch 25 yards for a touchdown. Prior to that carry, Booker had only tallied 24 rushing yards in the game total.
After the Sun Devils went three-and-out, Utah tacked on a 43-yard field goal from Andy Phillips to extend their advantage to 24-18 with 6:35 left in the game.
On the first play of the ensuing ASU drive, Bercovici fumbled in the backfield and is not able to jump on the football. Utah recovered and tacked on another field goal to take a 27-18 lead with 4:20 left.
The Sun Devils picked up a few first downs and drove inside Utah territory with less than two minutes, but after Bercovici was sacked on third down, ASU was not able to convert a fourth and long and Utah sealed the victory.
Booker - who was held in check all night by ASU - exploded for a 62-yard rushing touchdown on third down with just over a minute left to put an exclamation point on the Utah victory.
Check back later for a full game recap with player and coaches quotes as well as more content surrounding this ASU defeat.