Arizona State’s young defense has been criticized often in the 2014 season, but the unit certainly gave No. 23 Stanford all it could handle Saturday night.
The visiting Cardinal couldn’t even muster 70 yards of offense in the first half at Sun Devil Stadium, and ASU, despite a slow start, took a 14-0 lead into the break, thanks to second quarter touchdowns by D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong.
The 17th-ranked Sun Devils began moving the ball more effectively in the second half, but they had trouble finishing in the red zone, and kicker Zane Gonzalez racked up four field goals over the final two periods.
Stanford finally found a little breathing room after the half, but it could still never get the momentum in its favor, and ASU held onto its lead comfortably throughout the night, winning by a final of 26-10.
The Sun Devils improved to 5-1 overall, including 3-1 in conference. Stanford dropped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play.
Here’s a look at ASU’s home victory by the numbers:
4 (part I)
Gonzalez went 4-for-5 on field goals, only missing a 48-yard try. His longest of the night was 47 yards. It’s only the second time in his career that he’s kicked four FGs in a game. Although his 14 points Saturday marked a season high, it’s still a few off from his Sun Devil high of 17, which happened last October in a 53-24 victory over Washington.
4 (part II)
Arizona State broke a four-game losing streak to the Cardinal, including last year’s Pac-12 Championship game. Nice to get the monkey off the back.
Stanford came into the game allowing just a 29 percent conversion rate on opponents’ third downs, but ASU passed the flag on nine out of 19 occasions, nearly a 50 percent success rate.
Even though Mike Bercovici had his most modest game as a starter — 23-for-33 for 245 yards and one touchdown — the performance was good enough to move the junior into 29th on the Sun Devils’ all-time list for passing yards. Not bad for someone who’s only appeared in 12 games in his collegiate career, including just three starts.
Strong had the second-most yards receiving in the game for ASU — 75 on eight catches, including one TD — and he moved ahead of Morris Owens for 13th place on ASU’s all-time list for receiving yards. Strong needs just 33 yards through the air to pass Lenzie Jackson for the 12th spot.
Foster nearly reached 100 yards receiving out of the backfield — 92 to be exact. It was the second-highest total of his collegiate career. He got off to a slow start running the ball, but he eventually reached 59 yards on the ground, although it took him 24 carries to get there (2.5 yards per rush). In total, he accumulated 151 rushing and receiving yards against Stanford. His yardage on the ground Saturday elevated him from 30th on the Sun Devils’ all-time list to 26th. Guess who’s one spot ahead of him now: Marion Grice. Foster needs just 70 yards to pass his predecessor on the rushing list.
Before Saturday’s game, the Cardinal had been allowing opponents just 238 yards on offense. The Sun Devils didn’t have their most prolific offensive night of the season, but they did better than most by putting up 356 yards on the Cardinal defense.
Stanford managed just 288 total yards of offense in the contest, most of which came on two fourth quarter drives, although only one of the two produced a touchdown. It was the lowest offensive output for any team against ASU this year. Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed less than 50 percent of his passes (19-for-39) for a modest 212 yards. His quarterback rating was 41.3 in the loss.
In ASU’s third home game of the year, the team drew 59,012 fans to the stadium. That’s a shade down from the 60,876 that attended the Week 5 loss to UCLA, but quite a step up from the 52,000-plus that came to see the Sun Devils kick off the season against Weber State on a Thursday night.