Following two tough road losses, ASU found themselves back where they started. At 2-2 with a home game against an unimpressive opponent, the Sun Devils needed an opportunity to rediscover their mojo. A record-breaking performance did just that.
Sophomore running back Eno Benjamin put together a career night, building off his admiral effort against the Washington Huskies last Saturday night. Benjamin ran for a total of 312 yards and four touchdowns, in the process breaking the previous school record for single game rushing yards by 62.
Benjamin has always been touted for his talent, and in his first season as the lead back he’s displaying his talents in front of the nation.
“We knew we’d be able to run the ball on them, and we executed,” said Benjamin. “I had a blueprint from my senior year of high school when I sat down with (running backs) coach (John) Simon and we had goals, and I knew what I had to do to reach those goals.”
Both running backs came to play on Saturday night, as they embarrassed the opponent’s defense the entire evening.
Not to be outdone, Oregon State’s true freshman running back Jemar Jefferson had quite the performance himself. Jefferson ran for 254 yards and two touchdowns, easily slicing through the ASU defense and turning heads in the process.
The Beavers came back in the contest after trailing 24-3, they eventually got the score down to 24-17 and were very much in the contest.
The Beavers gained possession after they stopped Arizona State on a 4th-and-short play and quieted the crowd in Tempe. Oregon State marched all the way down the field and were set up on 4th-and-Goal at the one-yard line. After committing a false start penalty, the Beavers kept their offense on the field and ran an improvised passing play.
The ball fell incomplete, and the comeback attempt hit the ground with a thud. Sun Devil Stadium erupted, and everyone in the building knew the contest was finished.
“It was a pivotal moment for us,” redshirt junior linebacker Malik Lawal said. Lawal had a big sack in the first half. “We had a moment to take the momentum away, we went on to the field had out game plan and made the call. We got it done this time.”
ASU head coach Herm Edwards was proud of his team’s offensive production, especially how the unit moved the ball against the lowly Beaver defense.
“I told our offense in the beginning of the week that we need to score on almost every possession, and we almost did,” Edwards said. “Eno Benjamin obviously broke all kinds of records, his ability to break tackles and to just stay with it.’
Edwards was less thrilled with the defense’s performance. ASU allowed a total of 406 yards and 24 points, after giving up only 20 total points in their first two home games.
“We hit a lull, and lost a little bit of our confidence,” Edwards said about the second quarter defensive struggles. “They took advantage of that, they scored on run plays where we didn’t fit up right and the ball got outside of us.”
N’Keal Harry broke out of his two game lull by scoring a touchdown out of the backfield and catching a 41-yard bomb from Wilkins and shaking a defender in the process. Harry was well contained by both SDSU and Washington.
The Sun Devils now travel to Boulder, Colorado for a matchup against the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes. CU is coming off a 38-16 drubbing of the UCLA Bruins earlier Saturday and will seek revenge from a 41-30 ASU win last season in Tempe.
ASU is seeking their first win away from Sun Devil Stadium, and it’s not lost on their head coach.
“We haven’t been very good on the road, along with Pac-12 wins we’ve only averaged four in the last three years,” said Edwards. “I used to love going on the road, there’s nothing like winning on the road and fans leaving in the fourth quarter quiet.”