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Fork Report: ASU’s College Football Playoff dreams die at Oregon State

Perhaps it was a trap.

Too cold. Too tough a place to play. Too much on the line.

While its goals of winning the South and returning to the Pac-12 Championship Game are very much alive, Arizona State’s dreams of making the College Football Playoff are over.

The sixth-ranked Sun Devils lose at Oregon State, 35-27, snapping a five-game winning streak.

Trailing 14-3, ASU (8-2, 5-2) scored 21 unanswered points to take a 10-point halftime lead, 24-14.

However, coming out of the locker room, the offense stalled and the defense couldn’t get off the field as Sean Mannion, the conference’s all-time career passing leader, threw two touchdowns and Michael Doctor picked off Taylor Kelly, returning the interception 35 yards to seal the Sun Devils fifth straight defeat at Reser Stadium.

ASU has not won in Corvallis since 2005.

Kelly finished 19-of-38 for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

It was Oregon State’s (5-5, 2-5) first win in five games.

THE GOOD

On the third Sun Devils’ offensive snap of the game, D.J. Foster caught an eight-yard pass, extending his streak of at least once reception to 37 consecutive games, the 10th-longest active streak in the FBS and every game he has played at ASU.

Foster would add a touchdown catch later in the quarter, a 17-yard play that pulled the Sun Devils to within four points at 1:13. It marked his 11th touchdown reception of his career, the most among all active FBS running backs.

For the second straight game Damarious Randall picked off the opposing quarterback. His first-quarter interception was the 80th turnover forced by Todd Graham’s defense at ASU, and the play led to the Sun Devils’ first points of the game, a Zane Gonzalez field goal.

Three possessions later, the defense forced a second turnover. Antonio Longino returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown, the first scoop-and-score recorded since 2012, when Junior Onyeali had such a play also against Oregon State in Corvallis. It was the fourth defensive touchdown of the season and the 13th scored by Graham’s defense at ASU (11 interception returns, two fumble returns).

Marcus Hardison caused the fumble with a sack of Mannion. He also hit Mannion on Randall’s interception. Hardison dropped Mannion twice in the game, his team-leading seventh and eighth sacks of the season — six in the past four games.

With his second-quarter touchdown throw to Kody Kohl, Kelly became just the third quarterback in Sun Devil history with more than 70 career touchdown passes. Kelly also surpassed 8,000 passing yards, becoming the fourth player in ASU history to go over the mark.

With nine catches for 103 yards, Jaelen Strong recorded his 11th 100-yard receiving game, the third-most in Sun Devil history, trailing only Derek Hagan (18) and Shaun McDonald (12) for the most 100-yard receiving games in program history.

Before he hooked a 30-yard try late in the second quarter, Gonzalez had made 12 of his last 13 field goal attempts and 15 in a row on attempts under 48 yards since missing a 44-yarder against New Mexico.

THE BAD

Oregon State rushed for 183 yards in the first quarter, establishing a new season-high — not for a quarter, but for a game. Storm Woods gashed the Sun Devil defense for runs of 78 and 35 yards, the former of which resulted in a touchdown, the longest rushing score allowed by ASU since Melvin Gordon’s 80-yarder against Wisconsin last season and the second-longest scoring play against the Sun Devils this season behind Eldridge Massington’s 80-yard touchdown reception against UCLA.

Behind that rushing attack, which also saw Terron Ward score on a 66-yard run, Oregon State scored 14 points, the most given up in the first quarter by the Sun Devils this season. The two scoring plays were just the second and third touchdowns allowed by ASU in the first quarter this season. Only New Mexico had scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter this season, the second game of the year.

Oregon State finished with a Sun Devil opponent season-high 247 rushing yards, the fifth time this season ASU — the conference’s second-worst rushing defense — has surrendered better than 200 yards on the ground. Both Ward (148) and Woods (125) topped 100 yards rushing, the first time ASU has given up a pair of 100-yard rushers since Tre Madden and Justin Davis rushed for 130 and 128 yards, respectively, against USC last season.

Though it did not ultimately cost the Sun Devils, redshirt freshman receiver Ronald Lewis was flagged for running into the punter in the second quarter. The five-yard penalty made Oregon State re-think its decision to punt the football at the ASU 41. So, on 4th-and-1, the Beavers went for it with Damien Haskins rushing for two yards and a first down. The drive, however, stalled three plays later.

STAT OF THE GAME

5: The number of Oregon State explosive plays (35 yards or more), including the go-ahead score, a 68-yard touchdown catch by Jordan Villamin with 10:55 remaining in the game

HE SAID IT

“We weren’t ready to play,” said Graham, referring to his team’s 11-point deficit just 10 minutes into the game.

NOTED

At kickoff, the thermometer read 34 degrees, the lowest temperature at the start of a Sun Devil game since 2011, according to Arizona State

After scoring first in each of the first eight games of the season, the Sun Devils have now been scored upon first in the past two games

Jordan Simone, the Sun Devils leading tackler, suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter and did not return

The Sun Devils have outscored the opposition, 90-41, in points off turnovers this season

The Sun Devils lost their first game under Graham (23-1) when leading at halftime

UP NEXT

Senior Day.

The Sun Devils play their final home game of 2014 in which they’ll honor a senior class of 11 members, a total that ranks tied for the second-fewest among all Division I schools behind only Temple’s eight total seniors.

ASU hosts Washington State (3-7, 2-5) on Saturday, November 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The Sun Devils have not lost to the Cougars at home since 2001; and they won last season’s match-up in Pullman, 55-21.

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