ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL
Fork Report: ASU upsets No. 24 Oregon behind Wilkins, Harry
Sep 23, 2017, 11:27 PM
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
TEMPE, Ariz. — For more than a decade, Arizona State had no answer.
The question: How to beat the Oregon Ducks.
They hadn’t done it since 2004.
Well, the drought is now over.
Behind Manny Wilkins, N’Keal Harry, Jalen Harvey and a stout defense, the Sun Devils upset No. 24 Oregon, 37-35, in front of 50,110 at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday.
Brandon Ruiz’s 41-yard field goal with 2:33 to play provided the final margin of victory.
Wilkins accounted for three touchdowns, Harry (170 yards) and Harvey (133) each topped 100 receiving yards and the defense slowed the nation’s third-highest scoring offense just enough to end what had been a 10-game losing streak to the Ducks.
In what was the Pac-12 opener for both teams, ASU (2-2, 1-0) led throughout and was ahead 31-14 after a Demario Richard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Oregon (3-1, 1-1) rallied, outscoring the Sun Devils 21-3, to take its first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Despite being two-touchdown underdogs, ASU would not be denied. Not on this night.
The Sun Devils drove 57 yards on 11 plays ending with Ruiz kicking his third field of the game to put ASU in the win column for the first time since the season opener.
Wilkins went 24-of-39 for 347 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for two scores.
ASU outgained Oregon, 489-401.
Justin Herbert passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth in the loss, while Royce Freeman, who broke the Ducks’ school record for rushing scores in the first half, finished with 81 yards.
With his first pass attempt of the game, a seven-yard toss to Ballage on the Sun Devils’ opening possession, Wilkins set a school record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, surpassing Rudy Carpenter’s mark of 149. Wilkins entered the day as one of only three FBS quarterbacks (N.C. State’s Ryan Finley and Temple’s Logan Marchi) who have attempted at least 100 passes and not thrown an interception.
With 71 passing and 37 rushing yards, Wilkins accounted for 108 of the Sun Devils’ 157 first-quarter yards. His three-yard touchdown toss to Harry capped a season-long 15-play scoring drive to put ASU back in front, 14-7. Later, after an onside kick, Wilkins rushed for 20 yards, the highlight of a seven-play drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-7. Wilkins went 8-of-11 passing with three rush attempts.
With scoring drives of 75 and 60 yards on back-to-back possessions to begin the second half, the Sun Devils more than doubled their total yardage (60) from the entire second quarter. Both scores — Wilkins and Richard touchdown runs — were setup by deep pass plays, a 63-yard catch by Harvey and 46-yard catch-and-run by Harry; the latter of which put Harry over 100 receiving yards (118) for the second straight game.
Though the defense held Oregon without points on three of its four first-quarter possessions, it’s what happened the one time the Ducks did score: Too many big plays allowed by the Sun Devils. Herbert completed throws of 28 and 19 yards, while Freeman rushed for 20 yards; all in a three-play stretch. The 28-yard pass converted a 2nd-and-13. And on Herbert’s seven-yard touchdown to Dillon Mitchell, it was a successful 3rd-and-6.
Closing out the first half is something the Sun Devils are going to have to work on. Once again, they allowed a late score. This time it was Freeman scoring from 12 yards out one play after Ryan Newsome muffed a punt. Freeman’s touchdown made it 17-14 ASU at halftime. The Sun Devils have now allowed 24 points, including touchdowns to New Mexico State and Texas Tech in addition to Oregon, in the final minute of the half this year.
After punting seven times in their first nine possessions, Oregon scored on successive drives to pull to within a field goal, 31-28, at the end of the third quarter. Herbert completed passes of 20 and 22 yards to Johnny Johnson and Tony Brooks-James, respectively, for touchdowns. The second scoring drive was aided by a defensive holding penalty. Through three quarters, Herbert was 14-of-24 for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
STAT OF THE GAME
1-of-11: The Sun Devils entered the game with the nation’s worst third-down defense, yet held Oregon to one third-down conversion in 11 chances
HE SAID IT
“I just can’t tell you how proud I am of our players, to just ignore the noise and to go play and believe in yourself. I think we showed tonight we got the potential to have a really good football team,” said head coach Todd Graham, who earned his 90th career win and ninth victory over a ranked team since arriving in Tempe.
–With the victory, the Sun Devils improved to 9-8 in its last 17 games vs. ranked opponents
–With the victory, the Sun Devils improved to 27-9 in home games since the 2012 season
–Senior linebacker Koron Crump did not play due to a left knee injury; he’s out indefinitely
–Sophomore receiver John Humphrey missed his second straight game with a knee injury
–Scouts from three NFL teams — the Cardinals, Eagles and Texans — were in attendance
–Jake Plummer and Keith Poole were in town as part of the “Nissan Heisman House Tour”
It’s back on the road for the Sun Devils.
ASU heads to Stanford on Saturday, Sept. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on ESPN 620 AM.
The Sun Devils won the most recent matchup in 2014, 26-10, which snapped a four-game losing streak in the series. Winning at Stanford Stadium, however, has been more problematic. The Sun Devils have dropped six of seven on the road to the Cardinal, last seeing the win column in 2007.
Overall, ASU leads 17-13 in a series that dates back to 1978.