ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

ASU falls to Oregon, shutting door on Pac-12 South title hopes

Nov 18, 2018, 12:50 AM | Updated: 1:10 am
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)...
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

Controlling their own destiny in the Pac-12 South title race, the Arizona State Sun Devils needed two big wins over Oregon and in-state rival Arizona.

But with an Oregon Ducks team firing on all cylinders early on and ASU’s offense failing to capitalize in key situations, the Sun Devils’ Pac-12 South hopes were snubbed out as they fell 31-29 Saturday night.

Oregon hit the ground running as the Ducks found pay dirt on their opening drive, a six-yard touchdown run from CJ Verdell.

ASU would be quick to respond, however, using 10 plays to drive 55 yards for the 30-yard field goal from Brandon Ruiz, making it 7-3 after a quarter of play.

The Ducks continued to press the ASU defense to start the second quarter as Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert went to work, connecting with Verdell for the 18-yard touchdown.

The score wouldn’t stay 14-3 for long though as Ruiz put it through the uprights for a second time, making it just a one-score lead for Oregon.

But with just six points on two ASU drives that stalled deep inside Oregon territory, momentum was still squarely on the Ducks side.

Even when the Sun Devils looked to be taking control, Oregon would answer right back.

With about two minutes left in the first half, ASU defense showed some signs of life against a driving Oregon offense as ASU’s Aashari Crosswell picked off Herbert and took the ensuing return 50 yards the other way.

The very next play, Manny Wilkins not only cut the deficit with a 22-yard touchdown strike to Frank Darby, but gave the Ducks just 50 seconds to drive down the field before halftime.

They would only need 31.

Starting on their own 29 yard-line, Herbert and the Oregon offense moved down the field, capitalizing on the five-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown run from Jaylon Redd.

The inability to cross the goal line would continue for the Sun Devils in the third quarter.

While ASU’s defense was stingy in the third quarter — not allowing an Oregon score — the offense would once again have to settle for a field goal, cutting the Ducks’ lead to 28-16.

But while the Ducks held a two-score lead, momentum would shift in favor of the Sun Devils at the start of the fourth quarter.

Looking at fourth and long, ASU’s Michael Sleep-Dalton punted it near midfield to Oregon return man Ugochukwu Amadi. Amadi couldn’t corral the ball, muffing the punt and giving the Sun Devils another opportunity on offense.

ASU would cash in on Oregon’s miscue seven plays later as Wilkins would connect with Brandon Aiyuk for the 25-yard score, cutting the lead to five.

They weren’t done there.

After an Oregon field goal, the ASU offense continued to move the chains late in the game.

Burning nearly five minutes off the clock, the Sun Devils drove 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, ending the drive on a Manny Wilkins one-yard score. The Sun Devils would fail on the two-point conversion to make it 31-29 with 4:35 left to play.

And just as the offense started to pick it up, the defense came up with another big stop as Cam Phillips picked off Herbert to give the Sun Devils another chance at taking home the victory.

But just as the game looked to be going ASU’s way in the closing minutes, Oregon’s defense showed up one last time, getting to Wilkins for the strip sack and ending any chances for a comeback for the Sun Devils.

With ASU’s 31-29 loss to Oregon, Utah wins the Pac-12 South title. Following the Utes win on Saturday, ASU needed to win their final two games to win the Pac-12 South.

UP NEXT

The Sun Devils will look to finish off the regular season on a high note when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in the Duel in the Desert.

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