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Fork Report: ASU falls to Utah at home for the first time since 1976

Arizona State linebacker Salamo Fiso, who was dressed but did not play, kneels on the sidelines after a Utah touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Under Todd Graham, two things have become expected at Arizona State since 2012: winning at home and winning on Senior Night.

However, neither happened Thursday.

Utah spoiled the party for those 48,220 in attendance with a 49-26 win, sending the Sun Devils to their fourth straight loss.

Troy Williams passed for 296 yards and four touchdowns, Joe Williams rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and Raelon Singleton had four catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns.

Joe Williams has gained better than 170 rushing yards in four straight games.

Utah (8-2, 5-2) had not won in Tempe since 1976, losing its last eight visits.

With quarter Manny Wilkins back under center, ASU led 13-0 after the first quarter, but trailed 21-20 at halftime and 28-26 entering the fourth quarter.

Wilkins, who missed last week due to injury, was 19-of-31 for 309 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice, including a pick-six, and sacked nine times.

Kalen Ballage and N’Keal Harry each had rushing scores. Both topped 100 receiving yards, as well.

ASU (5-5, 2-5) had been 4-0 on Senior Night under Graham.

It’s the Sun Devils’ first four-game losing streak since 2012.

THE GOOD

Twice in the first quarter the Sun Devils defense forced a turnover. First, George Lea recovered a fumble on a bad snap. Then, Laiu Moeakiola fell on a loose football following a late pitch by Troy Williams to Joe Williams. The pair of takeaways occurred in Utah’s first seven plays of the game, and they were the sixth and seventh fumble recoveries of the season by ASU.

For the third time under Graham, the Sun Devils have recorded 25 rushing touchdowns. The 25th came with Ballage running two yards into the end zone out of the Sparky formation to put ASU in front 13-0 with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The scoring drive was aided by Frederick Gammage’s 46-yard reception on a reverse-pass thrown downfield by Harry.

More from Harry, this time showing his athleticism: He ran 31 yards for a touchdown, which put ASU back in front 20-14 with 3:36 remaining in the second quarter. But, it was how Harry accounted for those 31 yards that impressed. It was a design pass play, but Harry dropped the lateral throw from Wilkins. Harry picked up the football and zig-zagged his way into the end zone.

Ten games into the season and Tim White finally recorded his first touchdown reception. It was a 12-yard grab on 3rd-and-goal that pulled ASU to within 28-26 with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed. White, who has battled injuries and was limited to special teams play only last week, finished with two catches, giving him 49 on the season.

THE BAD

For as well as the Sun Devils played in the first quarter by outgaining Utah 192-27, they only managed one touchdown on four trips inside the red zone. Twice, Zane Gonzalez kicked field goals (24 and 36 yards, his 15th and 16th in a row), while Wilkins was picked off in the end zone, intercepted by Marcus Williams on a pass intended for Jay Jay Wilson to halt ASU’s first drive of the game.

The script flipped in the second quarter with Utah holding a 229-79 advantage in total yards. Troy Williams accounted for a big chuck of those yards. In only four possessions, he completed 10-of-17 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns, two to Singleton, including one that went for 64 yards. It was the 13th scoring play of 50 or more yards allowed by the ASU defense this season.

Uh, make that 14 scoring plays of 50 or more yards allowed this season. The 14th came on Utah’s first offensive play of the second half: Joe Williams made one would-be tackler miss at the line of scrimmage and then scooted through a hole on the right side for an 82-yard touchdown run and 28-20 lead at the 9:41 mark of the third quarter. The play put Williams over 100 rushing yards.

Facing a 1st-and-35 at the ASU 47 after three consecutive penalties, Troy Williams completed a 23-yard pass. Then on 2nd-and-12, he found Singleton for a 24-yard touchdown catch to give the Utes a 35-26 lead at the 11:48 mark of the fourth quarter. Earlier on the drive, Utah was helped by a pair of third-down pass interference penalties, called on Bryson Echols and Kareem Orr, respectively.

STAT OF THE GAME

11, 22: The number of Utah sacks and Utah tackles for loss. Hunter Dimick accounted for five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss himself.

HE SAID IT

“Just really disappointed. Disappointed for our seniors,” Graham said. “We just self-destructed. It’s so frustrating.”

NOTED

– Harry became the ninth different player and sixth position player to attempt and ultimately complete a pass this season.

– Call him Mr. Consistent as Gonzalez has scored a point in all 49 games of his Sun Devils career, setting a school record.

– Though healthier, ASU was still minus a few players, including LB Salamo Fiso, LG Sam Jones and RG Stephon McCray.

– Twenty ASU seniors dressed for their last home game, which also served as the school’s annual Salute to Service Game.

– Scouts from 11 NFL teams, including the Cardinals, were in attendance. So were the CFL’s BC Lions and Edmonton Eskimos.

UP NEXT

It’s back on the road, where the Sun Devils will be each of their final two weeks of the regular season.

They visit No. 4 Washington on Saturday, Nov. 19. Kickoff from Husky Stadium is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

ASU has won 10 straight over Washington, including last season’s matchup at Sun Devil Stadium, 27-17.

The Huskies’ last victory in the series came in 2001 in Tempe.

Meanwhile, the Sun Devils have not lost in Seattle since 1997.

Overall, ASU leads 18-15 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1975.

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