The Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the No. 16 Utah Utes Saturday afternoon in Tempe by a final score of 38-20.
ASU opened with the ball and marched down the field and scored on a six-yard run from Eno Benjamin. The Sun Devils were aided by a targeting penalty on 3rd and Goal from the 15 by the Utes’ junior safety Phillip Afi’a.
Utah was able to move the ball early on their opening drive, but committed a costly turnover. Junior quarterback Tyler Huntley was collapsing in the pocket due to pressure and heaved a deep throw that was intercepted by freshman safety Aashari Crosswell.
Crosswalk returned the ball 47 yards setting the Sun Devils up with good field position.
The offense responded with a strong drive that culminated in a three-yard touchdown from Manny Wilkins to N’Keal Harry, putting ASU ahead 14-0. The catch moved Harry to tied for third in Sun Devil history in receptions with John Jefferson.
The Utes responded with their first scoring drive of the day on a one-yard direct snap carry from Zack Moss, cutting the deficit to 14-7. Utah moved the ball on the ground with great success early in the game.
Both offenses started strong early, and each defense left a lot to be desired.
Utah added a field goal early in the second quarter as senior kicker Matt Gay connected from 40 yards.
The Sun Devils marched down the field on their next drive, but sophomore kicker Brandon Ruiz missed from 37 yards away as ASU squandered an important scoring opportunity.
Utah took their first lead of the contest on a five yard pass from Huntley to sophomore wide receiver Samson Nacua giving the Utes the 17-14 advantage.
Utah successfully ran the ball throughout the contest, but at times made silly mistakes throwing the football.
ASU responded with a nice drive to end the half as Wilkins found Harry for his second touchdown of the game putting ASU up 21-17 before halftime.
Each team’s defense came out of the break making big plays.
The Sun Devils’ freshman linebacker Merlin Robertson brought in his first career interception on the Utes’ first drive of the second half.
ASU was driving deep into Utah territory, but then an offensive pass interference penalty by Harry was followed by an interception by Utah sophomore cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Wilkins was flushed from the pocket and lost his footing when trying to get the ball to Benjamin.
After each team traded three-and-outs, the Utes regain possession but lost Huntley to an injury. In relief freshman quarterback Jason Shelley came in and drove Utah down the field into ASU territory. The drive stalled and Utah settled for a 31-yard field goal from Gay, cutting ASU’s lead to 21-20.
The Sun Devils responded with their first touchdown of the second half early in the fourth quarter. Wilkins found his favorite target Harry for his third touchdown reception of the game. This one was a 61-yard reception that allowed Harry to use his speed to run past the Utes’ defensive backs. ASU took a 28-20 lead.
Shelley struggled to move the ball down the field as ASU’s defense easily bested the freshman forcing him to try and beat them in the air. The Utes offense couldn’t rediscover its earlier success.
Arizona State tacked on three more points on a 21-yard field goal from Ruiz to pad the lead to 31-20.
The Sun Devils put the game to bed on a 44-yard run from Benjamin giving them a 38-20 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The final icing on the cake was an interception from junior quarterback Kobe Williams in the end zone that he wrestled away from Utah’s receiver.