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Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Sun Devils trail 22-18 to West Virginia at halftime

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After a sluggish start offensively, ASU trails 22-18 at the half.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils trail the West Virginia Mountaineers 22-18 at halftime of the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

The Mountaineers dominated the first quarter, outgaining ASU 236-42 as West Virginia tallied plays of 26, 31, 32 and 53 yards respectively in the game's first 15 minutes. However, the Mountaineers had a difficult time inside the ASU red zone, as they were held to field goals on their first two drives of the game.

West Virgina's kicker Josh Lambert hit field goals of 21 and 31 yards to put the Mountaineers up 6-0 midway through the first quarter. West Virginia had outgained ASU 142-0 at one point during the half.

After the ASU offense went three and out on its first two drives, linebacker Salamo Fiso intercepted West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard and returned it to the Mountaineer 20-yard line. However, the Sun Devils could not muster a first down and Zane Gonzalez nailed a 37-yard FG to put ASU on the board.

Mike Bercovici found Devin Lucien for a gain of 12 on third and five, however ASU was in an illegal formation after left tackle Evan Goodman did not line up on the line of scrimmage.

Following the ASU field goal, West Virginia again drove down the field with a six-play, 55-yard drive. However, once again the ASU defense held and West Virginia kicked their third field goal to go up 9-3 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.

Finally, the Sun Devils (or either team) found the end zone early in the second quarter. Bercovici found Lucien for a 19-yard strike to put ASU up 10-9 with 9:59 left in the second quarter. Lucien went over 1,000 receiving yards for the season in the first half.

After consistently settling for field goals in the first quarter, the Mountaineers finally found the end zone in the second as the ASU defense surrendered yet another big play. This time it was a 59-yard touchdown catch from Shelton Gibson on a play where the West Virginia receiver was wide open down the sideline.

The Sun Devils responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 19-yard FG that pulled the Sun Devils within three. ASU had three opportunities to score touchdown inside the five-yard line but could not punch the ball in the end zone.

Following the ASU score, West Virginia drove 75 yards in eight plays for their second touchdown of the game when Howard found Daikiel Shrots on a fade route to put WVU up 22-13. The PAT was blocked by Ismael Murphy-Richardson and returned 98 yards for two points by Tim White. Ending one of the strangest first halves of the season for ASU.

West Virginia attempted a pooch kick put it was fielded near midfield by ASU and after a few plays, ASU was in field goal range and Gonzalez nailed a 35-yard FG to pull ASU within four, ending one of the strangest first halves of the season for ASU.