Big plays from Benjamin, Harry show potential of ASU offense

Sep 1, 2018, 10:55 PM | Updated: Sep 2, 2018, 12:48 am
Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) tries to elude the tackle of UTSA defensive back Clayto...
Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin (3) tries to elude the tackle of UTSA defensive back Clayton Johnson during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

In the first game of the season, ASU running back Eno Benjamin showed he’s ready to take the reigns from the departed running back duo of Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage.

He ran all over University of Texas at San Antonio, accumulating 131 rushing yards, 15 receiving and two touchdowns.

Wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who finished with 140 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, reminded college football that he’s a top receiver in the NCAA.

The two helped ASU dominate UTSA.

The offense got off to a quick start, scoring 14 points in 1:59, but the train stalled during the first half. ASU struggled to move the ball after taking the early lead.

After the Sun Devils recovered a fumble, Benjamin helped the offense advance down the field quickly.

In a seven-play drive, he had a 16-yard rush, then had a reception for eight yards on the next play.

After an impressive throw from quarterback Manny Wilkins to receiver Frank Darby, Benjamin punched in a three-yard run with 4:26 remaining in the half.

He paused at the line of scrimmage, reading the field before cutting back and finding a hole.

That helped kickstart the Sun Devils, who would score another touchdown before the quarter ended and go into the half with a 28-0 lead.

In the third quarter, he was used aggressively in the first drive before only touching the ball twice in the second.

His presence was felt, though, as he caught a seven-yard touchdown pass.

Benjamin juked a defender and then spun one more time at the goal line. It was unecessary, and nearly prevented him from scoring as three defenders converged around him, but he drove himself forward and into the end zone.

Benjamin averaged 8.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Harry gave UTSA a flashback from two years ago.

In Sept. 2016, he caught a one-handed touchdown with his left hand against the Roadrunners.

On the first drive Saturday, Harry caught a short pass, broke a tackle and put on a burst of speed. He outraced everyone en route to a 58-yard touchdown to give ASU an early lead.

He was targeted nine times and caught six of them.

With an already commanding 35-0 lead, Harry put his imprint on the game one more time.

Wilkins threw a short pass. Harry spun out of one tackle, juked away from three defenders and cut toward the other sideline.

He put a small stiff-arm on a diving defender before traversing the length and scoring. Harry was credited with a 31-yard touchdown catch, but he ran much further to break into the end zone.

“I don’t know how many guys he made miss tackles,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “He ran from one sideline – it was about a 100-yard play – because he runs from one sideline to the other. After he was going to the other one, I was going ‘really?’ and he just kept going until he scored a touchdown, so it was pretty good.”

Harry finished the third quarter with 140 yards and two touchdowns.

No other receiver had more than two catches or 23 yards.

Wilkins finished the third quarter 16-for-24 with 237 yards and four touchdowns. He connected with nine different targets.

The three came out of the game after the third quarter as ASU won 49-7.

With the experience of Harry and Wilkins to go with Benjamin’s ability to escape tackles and pick up speed, they present threats toward a defense at any time.

The trio gave an early warning to the Pac-12.

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Big plays from Benjamin, Harry show potential of ASU offense