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Instant Recap: Sun Devils pull shocker with 38-23 win at UCLA

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Arizona State used its best defensive performance of the season to top the UCLA Bruins on Saturday.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

PASADENA, Calif. -- After allowing a field goal as time expired for the first half, the Arizona State Sun Devils entered the third quarter looking to regain some of the momentum that they lost.

The plan worked to perfection.

The maroon and gold defense quickly shut down UCLA on the first possession of the half, then got going on the offensive side of the ball. A Mike Bercovici keeper on 3rd and 6 (after a dumb false start penalty), kept Arizona State's drive alive, and three plays later it was the quarterback calling his own number again. This time he ran for 34 yards untouched all the way to the end zone, putting the visitors ahead 22-10.

The defense came up huge once again on the ensuing Bruin possession, forcing a three and out to set up the offense in decent field position. A 13-yard run from Kalen Ballage on the opening play got the Sun Devils to midfield, and a big completion on 3rd and 5 to Kody Kohl set them up inside the red zone.

Once again, the offense did what it couldn't in the first 30 minutes. Bercovici connected with Foster in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown pass, making the score 29-10 to give the impression that a rout might be on.

It wasn't.

Josh Rosen's offense (backed strongly by running back Paul Perkins) finally started to find its rhythm toward the end of the third quarter. A 29-yard carry for Perkins put the ball inside the five, and two plays later it was Perkins again, muscling his way into the end zone. The two-point conversion attempt fell short, but UCLA was alive and only down 13.

The Bruin defense made its first huge play on the next series, getting an interception on a tipped pass to set their offense up at the ASU 38. The offense would come up clutch once again, getting a Duarte touchdown catch on a 3rd and 5 to pull within 29-23.

The maroon and gold put together a quality drive in response, only to see it stall around midfield on a batted away pass on 3rd and 10. The misfire ended up leading to one of the game's biggest plays, however, as punter Matt Haack pinned UCLA inside the 1-yard line with his best kick of the season.

The Bruins managed to get the ball out of the shadow of their own end zone, but were still forced to punt on fourth-and-6. Turns out, Arizona State would get the much sought after second safety anyway. A high snap over the punter's head went out of the back of the end zone, giving the ball back to the Sun Devils with two extra points in hand.

From there, Bercovici and his offense did a successful job of running down the clock. Ballage bulldozed through the UCLA defense to the endzone, putting the final bow on a huge 38-23 upset for the maroon and gold.

* * * * *

First Half

Arizona State's defense used its best half of the season to help the Sun Devils take a 15-10 lead into the locker rooms at No. 7 UCLA.

Both offenses struggled on their first possessions of the afternoon, going three and out with little success. Arizona State used a 28-yard completion to D.J. Foster and a 9-yard carry by Kalen Ballage on its next drive to get deep into UCLA territory, but an errant snap on third down forced Zane Gonzalez to attempt a 44 yard field goal. The try went wide right, keeping the game scoreless.

The defensive units dominated over the next few drives, forcing four punts in a total of four minutes. The last punt gave the Bruins the ball at their own 16-yard line, where they promptly lost three yards on two plays and then were flagged for intentional grounding. Since Josh Rosen was inside the end zone when he finally got rid of the ball, the penalty incurred a safety and gave the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead.

Tim White bobbled the ensuing kick but managed to pick up the ball and run 63 yards to the UCLA 31. Three plays later it was White again, using his blockers to find the end zone on a 12-yard screen pass from Mike Bercovici. The ensuing extra point made it 9-0 after the first quarter.

The Bruins got into maroon and gold territory for the first time on their next possession thanks to a defensive pass interference call. A 14-yard completion to Thomas Duarte got them into fringe field goal range, but a holding penalty on the next play promptly took them back out. The drive then stalled after two incompletions and a D.J. Calhoun sack.

Both teams traded three and outs after that, Arizona State eventually getting the ball back on its own 4-yard line after a perfect punt by Adam Searl. Demario Richard quickly got his team out of trouble, however, scampering 15 yards into the UCLA secondary on the first play of the drive.

Todd Graham dove deep into the playbook two plays later, calling for a direct snap to running back Jacom Brimhall on 2nd and 7. Brimhall managed to push forward for three yards, but the Sun Devils were forced to punt after an overthrow by Bercovici on third down.

The Bruins finally got something going on their next drive, marching 88 yards in just under two and a half minutes to break the maroon and gold's shutout attempt. The big drive was set up by a 50-yard completion to Stephen Johnson, and a 13-yard pass to Duarte on the very next play made the score 9-7.

Arizona State answered nicely on its ensuing drive, sparked by a 47-yard kick return from White. The march stalled after back-to-back incompletions in the end zone, but Gonzalez connected on a 31-yarder to extend the lead at 12-7.

The Sun Devil offense was right back on the field less than a minute later thanks to a Laiu Moeakiola interception just past midfield. This time Bercovici and company got all the way inside the UCLA seven yard line, but poor execution in the red zone hurt them once again.

Gonzalez made sure the turnover didn't go entirely to waste, making a 25 yard field goal to give the maroon and gold a 15-7 advantage. UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbairn answered with a 53-yard make as time expired to make the score 15-10 at the half.