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Colorado vs. ASU Instant Recap: Sun Devils complete comeback to top Colorado

One win from a bowl game

NCAA Football: Colorado at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Down double digits on multiple occasions, the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-4, 4-2 Pac-12) came back to top the Colorado Buffaloes (5-5, 2-5) by a score of 41-30 at Sun Devil Stadium Saturday.

After starting slow, ASU won the fourth quarter 24-3 to put themselves a win away from bowl eligibility.

Following an ASU three-and-out on its opening drive, the Buffaloes carved up the Sun Devil defense, converting their first three third down attempts, resulting in a 34-yard field goal by freshman kicker James Stefanou.

But it was a half of missed opportunities for Colorado.

Two plays before the field goal, sophomore quarterback Steven Montez and redshirt senior running back Philip Lindsay failed to connect on what would have been a wide open touchdown pass on a wheel route.

On their next drive, Montez had senior receiver Shay Fields wide open on a flea flicker, but Fields let the ball hit the turf. Two plays later, Colorado was forced to punt — a seven-point swing.

The Sun Devil offense couldn’t take advantage, though, punting on each of their first two drives and missing a 45-yard field goal on their third.

On their third drive the Buffaloes put it all together. Montez led a 13 play, 73-yard drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown run by Lindsay to extend their lead to 10-0.

After a failed fourth down attempt near midfield, it looked like a Buffaloes score might do it for ASU. But on fourth down at the Sun Devil 28, Lindsay was stuffed by senior linebacker DJ Calhoun, restoring some hope to the ASU sideline.

ASU immediately took the ball 72 yards in six plays, capped off by a 20-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins to sophomore receiver N’Keal Harry to cut Colorado’s lead to 10-7.

On the final drive of the half, Colorado put some extra space between itself and ASU going into the locker room. The Buffaloes went 51 yards on eight plays, capped by Lindsay’s second score of the day.

The Sun Devils would not go away just yet, though, as Wilkins led his second touchdown drive of the game. ASU traveled 77 yards on 7 plays in 54 seconds, capped by a pass from Wilkins to sophomore Kyle Williams.

The Sun Devils had a chance to tie the game at the end of the half, but freshman Brandon Ruiz missed a 55-yard attempt as time expired after ASU recovered a muffed squib kick after the TD.

The Sun Devils and Buffaloes traded field goals to open the second half, maintaining a six-point difference for much of the third quarter.

Colorado hit the Sun Devils with a quick strike, going 69 yards on just three plays and scoring on a 54-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Steven Montez to senior receiver Shay Fields, who burned sophomore cornerback Kobe Williams with a double move down the sideline.

ASU answered with another field goal by freshman kicker Brandon Ruiz to make it a 27-20 game with 13:37 remaining in the game.

The made kick seemed to give the Sun Devils some life, as redshirt senior AJ Latu and junior Jay Jay Wilson each picked up sacks on the ensuing Colorado drive. With the Buffaloes forced to punt, ASU brought the pressure and redshirt sophomore linebacker Khaylan Thomas made it count, blocking the kick and giving ASU good field position.

Seven plays and 40 yards later, senior running back Demario Richard found the end zone from five yards away to tie the game at 27.

The Buffaloes answered right back, as Montez found redshirt senior running back for a 60-yard catch and run to get deep in ASU territory, but the Sun Devil defense stood tall, forcing a 28-yard field goal, which freshman kicker James Stefanou made, to give the Buffaloes the lead back.

But again, the Sun Devils struck back. Richard got ASU deep in Buffalo territory with a 40-yard run before freshman running back Eno Benjamin finished the job with his first career touchdown from 19 yards out.

After stopping Colorado, the Sun Devils got a chance to run out the clock, but Richard made sure that wasn’t all. On the second play of the drive, Richard busted out a 63-yard run deep into the Colorado red zone. He finished the night with 25 carries for 189 yards a score.

ASU kept the ball on the ground, running the clock out. Five plays after Richard’s explosive run, redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins ran it in from a yard away to put a bow on the game, giving ASU a 41-30 lead and win.

Next week, ASU travels to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA looking for the program’s third straight win over the Bruins.