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Oregon vs. ASU: Sun Devils beat No. 24 Ducks, 37-35, ending 13-year drought

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The Sun Devils are in first place in the Pac-12 South, for now.

Oregon v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In what was a wild scoring affair of over 70 points and nearly 1,000 total yards of offense, defensive play down the stretch and a go-ahead field goal propelled the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) to a 37-35 win over the No. 24 Oregon Ducks (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12).

With ASU up two points and 47 seconds left to play, the Oregon Ducks could not find an answer. Starting on his own 10-yard line, Justin Herbert hit a receiver on a 12-yard pass before missing his next four targets and Arizona State escaped with the win.

The Sun Devils also stopped the Ducks on their prior drive. DJ Calhoun stuffed Herbert on a 4th-and-3, creating a turnover on downs with 1:16 left in the game near midfield, which handed the Sun Devils the ball.

Scoring wise, prior to the two big stops with the Sun Devils down 35-34, freshman kicker Brandon Ruiz connected on a 41-yard field goal with 2:33 left to play that won the Sun Devils the game, 37-35.

Aside from Arizona State’s offense, it was a defensive effort that held Oregon off in the end.

“I was so impressed on the last drive on the three-man pass rush,” Graham said. “No. 90 (Tashon Smallwood) plays a bunch of plays. No. 1 (JoJo Wicker) plays a bunch of plays. I was just impressed on how our guys battled and we played well on all three fazes.”

Arizona State beat Oregon for the first time in 13 years, ending a 10-game winning streak that the Ducks held over ASU since 2004.

Scoring was abundant in the first quarter, as the Ducks and Sun Devils combined for four scores on the first five drives of the game, but Arizona State lit up the scoreboard first.

After Oregon’s quick three-and-out, linebacker Tyler Whiley blocked an Oregon punt, putting the Sun Devils at the Oregon 40-yard line. It allowed Manny Wilkins to race for an 8-yard touchdown run to put ASU ahead 7-0 just three minutes into game.

Roughly two minutes later, Oregon’s offense woke up for a quick score, as Justin Herbert connected with Dillon Mitchell for a 7-yard back shoulder grab for a touchdown. Tying the game at 7-7.

The Sun Devils then fired back. Arizona State was stuck at 4th-and-2 from the Oregon 42-yard line, but went for it. Wilkins threw a 16-yard jump ball to N’keal Harry that he hauled in while well-protected by an Oregon defender. It put ASU at Oregon’s 26-yard line, setting up the rest of the scoring drive. Wilkins hit Harry again for a 3-yard touchdown pass. ASU led 14-7 with 3:14 left in the first quarter.

Harry and Wilkins connected for 170 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night. Wilkins had a season-high 347 passing yards and extended his streak pass attempts without an interception to 188 (the most in ASU history). Harry, on the other hand, had a career-high night in receiving yards.

“He’s been really good. I mean he’s tough. He’s starting to be a play caller. A lot of our plays he’s calling. Him and N’keal have a feel for each other that’s really neat,” Graham said. “Manny’s a leader now. I mean he’s an emotional leader. He’s got a genuineness to him that I really like.”

But it was moments after the score when the most surprising play of the night went down. Freshman Kicker Brandon Ruiz booted an onside kick that was recovered by freshman safety Evan Fields. Ruiz then connected on a 29-yard field goal, giving ASU a 17-7 lead with 1:30 left in the half.

“If we think we can take advantage of something someone’s doing, we’re going to do it,” Graham said. “We needed to be aggressive in those situations because we needed to win. And we needed a big win like this.”

After a wild first quarter of seemingly nonstop scoring, the Sun Devils and Ducks went on a 16-minute, 30-second scoring drought. But that ended with just seconds left before halftime.

On an unusual score, Oregon went three-and-out, but punted 40 yards and the ball was muffed by ASU return man Ryan Newsome at the Sun Devils’ 12-yard line. It set up a Royce Freeman 12-yard touchdown run. The Ducks inched a bit closer, 17-14, with 30 seconds left in the half.

The second quarter ended with not a single Sun Devil point, but ASU began the second half on fire.

Wilkins completed a 63-yard pass to Jalen Harvey that put the Sun Devils on Oregon’s 2-yard line, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Wilkins that put ASU ahead, 24-14, with 13 and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

About two and a half minutes later, the Sun Devils struck again, as Wilkins connected with Harry for 47-yards to the Oregon 7-yard line. One play later, Demario Richard ran seven yards for an ASU score, putting the Sun Devils ahead 31-14 for their largest lead of the night.

But after two ASU unanswered scores, the Ducks brought unanswered scoring of their own.

From their own 7-yard line, the Ducks went seven plays to gain 75 yards and narrow Arizona State’s lead to just 10 points. On a pair of passes and a run, Oregon got to ASU territory. Then, Herbert ran 18 yards to the Sun Devil 20-yard line before launching a 20-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III to bring the Ducks back, down 31-21 with 8:55 left in the third quarter.

The Sun Devils then took over and gained a first down on an Oregon defensive holding penalty, but Richard was then tackled for a 6-yard loss and Wilkins was sacked, forcing the Sun Devils to punt the ball.

Just under a minute and a half later, the Ducks raced down the field scoring in five plays. Herbert connected with Tony Brooks-James for a 22-yard touchdown pass. The Ducks were then down by just three points, 31-28, with 4:24 left in the third quarter.

After four drives of straight scoring, defensive plays fueled the end of the third quarter.

The Oregon defense stuffed Richard on a 4th-and-1 from the Oregon 47-yard line, creating a turnover on downs.

But it was the Arizona State’s defense who came up with a stop of greater momentum. On Oregon’s second play of the drive, Kani Benoit was stripped by defensive lineman JoJo Wicker and Abe Thompson recovered the fumble.

With senior linebacker and ASU sack-leader (4) Koron Crump sidelined with a knee injury, Thompson filled in. The Arizona Western transfer made the stat sheet.

“Did we miss Koron? Yeah we did. Through these last two games, Koron may have had 15 sacks.” ASU defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. “I think he (Thompson) played pretty good. These kids, they deserved this tonight. It was a big win for them.”

With sound defensive play, the Sun Devils converted the fumble into points when Ruiz nailed a 24-yard field goal, scoring his second field goal of the night and fourth on the season. ASU led 34-28 with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter.

A pair of scoreless drives then preceded an Oregon score. From their own 26-yard line, Oregon rushed the ball five times, and on his only pass of the drive, Herbert completed a 51-yard pass to Jacob Breeland. The Ducks ultimately scored on a 5-yard run by Herbert that put the Oregon ahead 35-34 with 6:32 left in the game.

Then, for a third time, Ruiz answered.

The Sun Devils used four minutes of clock to go 57 yards to the Oregon 23-yard line. Ruiz then hit a 41-yard field goal to put the Sun Devils ahead 37-35 with 2:33 left in the contest.

Oregon then took over, but was then stopped at its own 48-yard line. Calhoun stuffed Justin Herbert on a two-yard rush, turning the ball over on downs with 1:09 to play.

The same Sun Devils who came into week four with the worst third down defense in the nation, stopped Oregon 11 of 12 times on third down and both times the Ducks tried to convert on fourth down.

“This whole week, we just emphasized get off the field, get off the field. We struggled with that,” defensive lineman AJ Latu said.

Then, Arizona State handed the ball back to Oregon after a three-and-out.

But the Ducks wouldn’t be able to answer. Down 37-35 with 47 seconds remaining, Herbert missed four of his final five passes, ending the game.