November 2, 2008

Sun Devils fall just short in Corvallis

When Arizona State's season began in late August nobody thought the Sun Devils would be 2-6 eight games into the season.

Last year at this time the Sun Devils were 8-0. Now, following a 27-25 loss to Oregon State, ASU will have to win all four of its remaining contests just to qualify for a minor bowl game.

ASU played its best game since early September Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore., but when quarterback Rudy Carpenter's pass attempt on a 2-point conversion ended up in the hands of OSU defensive end Victor Butler with 21 seconds remaining, the Sun Devils found themselves somewhere they haven't been since the Great Depression.

Saturday's loss was the sixth in a row for ASU; the Sun Devils haven't dropped six straight in a single season since 1929.

A year ago, ASU seemed to always make the key plays when it needed to.

This season those clutch moments have turned into dropped passes, missed tackles, failed field goal attempts and lost turnovers.

On Oregon State's opening drive, Beavers' running back Jacquizz Rodgers converted on a fourth-and-one after he was initially stopped by safety Rodney Cox and defensive end Dexter Davis behind the line of scrimmage. OSU scored a touchdown two plays later.

Early in the second quarter wide receiver Kerry Taylor dropped what should have been a relatively routine touchdown reception that would have given ASU a 10-7 lead at the time. Instead ASU settled for a field goal.

And the lack of execution in the red zone, which was so apparent during that second quarter drive, was ASU's biggest problem all night.

The Sun Devils made their way inside the OSU 30-yard line six times and only managed one touchdown. Every other time they had to send in kicker Thomas Weber, who went four-for-five on field goal attempts.

ASU's only offensive touchdown came late in the game when Carpenter completed a 3-yard pass to tight end Andrew Pettes.

When the game began, the Sun Devils looked like the team that has seemingly been getting worse every week.

ASU started with the ball and went three-and-out before allowing OSU to score on its first drive.

But then after two Weber field goals, things appeared like they might swing in ASU's favor.

OSU starting quarterback Lyle Moevao was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter and Sean Canfield, the same quarterback who threw five interceptions against ASU last season, entered the game.

On the first drive of the second half, safety Troy Nolan picked off a Canfield pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown giving ASU a 13-7 lead. That was ASU's first lead since the fourth quarter of the UNLV game back on Sept. 13.

But after that, Canfield was on target the rest of the night.

He threw two touchdown passes and gained 218 yards in the air.

His counterpart, Carpenter, completed 15 of his 27 pass attempts for 17 yards and one touchdown. But he connected on just eight of his last 19 attempts after starting the game 7-of-8.

The most productive offensive player for ASU was running back Shaun DeWitty who made his first start of the season and ran the ball 16 times for 110 yards. That marked the first time in DeWitty's career that he passed the 100-yard mark and he is the first Sun Devil to rush for more than 100 yards in 2008.

DeWitty's longest run of the night came in the fourth quarter when he hopped over a Beaver defender near the line of scrimmage then raced down the field 54 yards before being caught at the 15-yard line. DeWitty's 54-yard run marked ASU's longest play from scrimmage on the season.

ASU's top receiver was Taylor who caught six balls for 81 yards. Taylor's biggest reception of the game was a 27-yarder that brought ASU to the 3-yard line and set up the touchdown pass to Pettes.

While the ASU offense looked better than it has in weeks, the defense may still be hung-over after allowing 54 points a week ago.

Throughout the night Rodgers was breaking arm tackles on his way to racking up 133 yards on the ground.

The defensive line, which has played well as of late, struggled to pressure the Beavers' quarterbacks and only had one sack all night.

Three Beavers had more than 50 receiving yards, and that doesn't include wide receiver Shane Morales who, despite having just 33 receiving yards, managed to haul in two touchdowns.

OSU out gained ASU 370 to 295 in total yards and held a 32:31 to 27:29 advantage in time of possession.

Notes

  • With wide receiver Kyle Williams out due to a concussion, wide receiver Nate Kimbrough took over punt returning duties.

    Kimbrough had a very good night returning three punts for 85 yards.

    In the second quarter, Kimbrough brought a punt back 58 yards to the OSU 22-yard line, but Weber missed a 44-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing offensive possession.

    Cornerback Omar Bolden replaced Williams on kickoff returns and totaled 79 yards on four returns.

  • Weber's first quarter field goal was his first since ASU played Georgia on Sept. 20.

  • This was the fifth game in a row the Sun Devils' opponent scored the first points of the game.


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