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September 10, 2011Nothing could have broken the connection between quarterback Brock Osweiler and receiver Aaron Pflugrad Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
Not rain, lightning or Missouri's vaunted defense.
On an electrically charged evening, it was like watching a football version of John Stockton feeding Karl Malone in the paint.
Crisp passes from Arizona State's junior set up man found their in-stride home time and again in the arms of Pflugrad, a total of seven assists altogether to the senior, who finished with eight catches for a massive 180 yards and two touchdowns in the 37-30 overtime win.
In the second quarter, Osweiler slung a 60-yard touchdown into the sure hands of Pflugrad, fusing the duo together for the long night ahead.
"I was pretty fired up after Brock put that long one on the money, the line did a great job and I just looked up at the ball and the ball was on the money and I ran it inside," Pflugrad said. "I really didn't have to do much, I was pretty pumped after."
Modesty filled the post-game press conference with Osweiler repeatedly calling Pflugrad the game's star while Pflugrad passed it back like a hot potato, but both players have admitted that double baked off-season workouts and extra conditioning put them in this position.
"Aaron Pflugrad?had one of the better football games I have ever had from a receiver," head coach Dennis Erickson said, "I don't know how many catches he had, I don't know the stats, but what I do know is that every time we needed something he made a big play. He was without a doubt the most valuable player in that game and made plays every time."
One of Pflugrad's two scores didn't even come from Osweiler, but instead via a little trickery with a lateral bringing Missouri's defense up, allowing junior Jamal Miles to throw a 35-yard pass to Pflugrad late in the third quarter.
"Jamal has a pretty good arm, so he put it on the money," Pflugrad said. "I think it was a good call in that point of the game where we needed a touchdown. If it doesn't work then it's just an incomplete pass."
One of the most significant plays made by Pflugrad did not in fact happen in the end zone. On third down in extra time, Pflugrad kept ASU's lone drive alive with a momentous 13-yard catch that eventually led to Miles's scoring touchdown reception to win the game.
"In all honesty its just one game at a time," Plfugrad said. "We just have to go out and practice hard every week and play every play your hardest because sometimes you're not going to be getting the ball but you block hard for your teammates and I think that's just as rewarding if you get the victory."
Pflugrad's move this season to outside receiver, where he played at Oregon before transferring to ASU, has seemingly allowed him to flourish with the offense.
"I think I'm getting a little more opportunities this year, so maybe that's part of it also with that position in offense you're going to get a little more playing time and what not, but I just feel fortunate to be a part of it," he said.
His teammates must agree, as the Sun Devils wouldn't have emerged victorious without him in in a game against the No. 21 Tigers, who entered the night having won 22 straight non-conference regular season games.
"I really believe in the team and that we are going to make plays. We came together as a team and I think you all saw that. We were going to find a way to win the game no matter what. It was a great team victory and it was a great day to be an ASU Sun Devil."