TEMPE - Arizona State desperately needed a hero. At least for an afternoon, they got one in quarterback Trenton Bourguet.
“He’s not the tallest. Not the fastest,” interim head coach Shaun Aguano said. “(He) doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he has the traits of a great quarterback and his guys rally around him.
“Look, Trent has been here. He’s a baller,” running back X Valladay said.
When starting quarterback Emory Jones went down with an injury, Bourguet stepped in for an impressive three-touchdown performance, leading ASU (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) to a 45-38 shootout win over Washington (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium.
Slow start, strong response to adversity
The first two drives of the game epitomized the Sun Devil team in 2022. Washington coach Kalen DeBoer’s opening-drive script went off without a hitch, and all plays went for positive yardage minus one incompletion from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the red zone. Penix Jr. capped it with a 1-yard touchdown rush.
The Sun Devil defense was on its heels the whole drive.
“I still don’t feel like we have played the full game (defensively) like we wanted to,” linebacker Kyle Soelle said. “But anytime you come out with a dub you got to be happy. Like we said, we really feel like we can compete with anyone.”
Like last week, they handled the initial adversity well with a 12-play scoring drive of their own. What was the difference? ASU settled for a 53-yard field goal from Carter Brown (career-high), after seemingly converting a fourth-and-short conversion that was negated by an illegal-formation penalty on ASU.
Two steps backward, one step forward, and they trailed 7-3.
On the ensuing drive, the Sun Devils had a momentum-changing stop teed-up perfectly. On third-and-long after Washington’s first (non-penalized) negative play of the day, Jordan Clark committed a controversial pass interference penalty that led to a chip-shot, 27-yard field goal Washington field goal and a 10-3 lead. An attempt from the previous spot (43-yard try) would have been much more difficult.
ASU responded with another methodical drive of its own. Driving into the red zone, quarterback Emory Jones took off scrambling to his left on one play. As he slid to give himself up, Washington safety Asa Turner lowered his shoulder and delivered a blow to Jones’s head. After review, Turner was ejected for targeting. Jones suffered a head injury and did not return.
In stepped Bourguet (15-for-21, 182 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), the Tucson-native and former walk-on who is beloved by the community, and was once pegged by fans as the team’s starter in 2021 before Jones transferred in from Florida.
“Coach Aguano said that he believes in me, and to take what (Washington) gives me,” Bourguet said. “This is what I’m supposed to do as a backup quarterback, is be prepared.”
On his first play, Bourguet handed off to X Valladay, who rumbled and stumbled 11 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 10-10. Valladay returned to 100-yard status with a 111-yard performance on Saturday. He also added another receiving touchdown.
Washington then punted in its third possession, and Bourguet picked up where Jones left off. The Sun Devils marched down the field for an 11-play, 90-yard drive capped off with an 11-yard pass connection between Bourguet and Valladay.
For the first time since week two at Oklahoma State, ASU held a lead at 17-10.
What felt like seconds later on the ensuing UW drive, a tipped-pass from Penix Jr. landed right in safety Jordan Clark’s bread basket for a walk-in pick-six to extend the Sun Devil lead to 24-10.
“I was like Oh. My God,” Clark said.
From then on, these two teams went pound-for-pound, bar-for-bar in a shootout that saw Washington chasing ASU for the majority of the second half.
Neither team scored on its initial second-half possession, but they traded touchdowns on the next four total drives. Bourguet found Elijah Badger (7 receptions, 53 yards, 2 touchdowns) on a 10-yard touchdown reception, then Ngata (4 rushes, 39 yards, 1 touchdown) punched in a 1-yard run on the next drive. UW responded to each with scores of its own, and ASU held a 38-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Washington, like they did all game, answered with a five-play, 53-yard drive to knot things up at 38-38.
The Sun Devils went 9-for-13 on third downs offensively on Saturday afternoon. Two of those came on clutch throws from Bourguet on ASU’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
Bourguet found tight end Jalin Conyers and receiver Bryan Thompson on third downs for gains of 12 and 32 yards, respectively. The dagger came on a 2-yard, back-shoulder connection to Badger for the second time on the day.
Trenton Bourguet just worked a professional-looking go-ahead TD drive. Three massive throws:— Kevin Redfern (@KevinMRedfern13) October 8, 2022
-3rd and long, 14-yard conversion to Jalin Conyers
-3rd and medium, 32-yard completion to Bryan Thompson
-Back shoulder TD pass to Elijah Badger
ASU back on top 45-38. 7:27 Q4
“Today kind of shows there is no secret to success in coaching,” Aguano said. “It is loving these kids and making sure you inspire them. I cannot wait to go hug my wife and kids, and celebrate.”