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No. 18 ASU outlasts Washington State with late game-winning TD

Quarterback Jayden Daniels #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils is congratulated by Brandon Aiyuk #3 after scoring on a 17 yard rushing touchdown against the Washington State Cougars late in the second half of the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Cougars 38-34. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State football head coach Herm Edwards went and talked to school president Michael Crow and athletic director Ray Anderson after the No. 18 Sun Devils beat Washington State with a last-minute, game-winning touchdown.

“I told them, ‘These guys are going to give me a heart attack,'” Edwards said Saturday. “‘What are y’all doing? I’m 65 years old. What are you guys doing?’ But that’s who they are.”

The nailbiter, 38-34 win was capped by a touchdown run from freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels with 0:34 left in the game. It was the Sun Devils’ fourth consecutive one-possession game. They’re 3-1 in that span, improving to 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in Pac-12 play.

“I said it this week. It was not going to be a 14-17 game,” Edwards said. “It was going to be in the 30s. We talked about it last night in our meeting, said we’ve got to score 30-plus points. Some kind of way, we’ve got to find a way.”

ASU was tasked with facing a Cougars offense that entered the game ranked first in the nation in passing yards per game with 450. What’s more, the Sun Devils gave Washington State’s Anthony Gordon time to throw early and struggled to get to the quarterback. ASU didn’t sack him once all game.

Trailing 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Sun Devils had their work cut out for them.

“That’s a good football team,” Edwards said of the Cougars. “I told [Washington State] Coach [Mike] Leach, that’s one of the hardest offenses to try to stop. He’s a mastermind. He is unbelievable, how they just can just go with the ball like the way they do it.”

The Sun Devils rallied from 17-7, 31-24 and 34-31 deficits to beat the Cougars at home and vault into a likely top-15 ranking. The whole thing was capped by Daniels’ big run, one in which he leapt and was hit mid-air, sending him landing on his backside in the end zone.

Not bad for a freshman.

“That’s what he does,” Edwards said. “That’s what he does. He gets it. He can’t do it all the time, but he’s done it a couple times when we needed it, and that’s who he is. I trust him. Because I know he knows when the moment appears, it’s never too big for him.

“Then the last drive, to be quite honest, I walked over to Jayden like I always do, I said ‘Hey,’ he says, ‘I know.’ I said ‘Well, go do it. This is it. We won’t get the ball back.’ He says, ‘Coach, I got you.'”

Not only did ASU get a big game from its freshman quarterback, but wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had himself a day. The senior has helped ASU recover from its loss of N’Keal Harry after he was selected by the Patriots in this year’s NFL Draft.

Aiyuk leads Sun Devil receivers this year, by far, with 651 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He had seven catches on Saturday for 196 yards and three touchdowns, including an 86-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter.

He had the banner day while dealing with a stomach illness.

“I didn’t even feel it at all in that second half, went out there with these guys,” Aiyuk said. “But yeah, I was a little bit [sick].”

The last ASU football receiver to score three touchdowns in a game was none other than Harry.

Elsewhere within the ASU offense, running back Eno Benjamin finished the day with 19 rushes for 137 yards and a touchdown, which was a 33-yard play that gave ASU its first lead of the game in the third quarter.

Benjamin also had six catches for 34 yards.

Up next for the Sun Devils is Utah, who entered this week ranked No. 15 in the country and was set to face 2-3 Oregon State on Saturday night.

“Our motto is real simple: Stay humble and hungry,” Edwards. “Just stay humble and hungry. And I don’t care about any rankings. I don’t pay attention to them. The only way I know is when you folks come in here and tell me.”


— Daniels finished the day 26-for-36 on passing for 363 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 23 yards on 10 tries with one touchdown, the game-winner.

— ASU had 532 yards of total offense to the Cougars’ 498.

— Washington State had slightly more time of possession, 30:59 compared to 29:01.

— Gordon, the Cougars’ QB, threw the ball a whopping 64 times. He was 44-for-64, throwing for 466 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. As a team, they had only 10 rushing attempts.

— ASU was down 34-31 before it’s game-winning touchdown, and that was thanks to a go-ahead field goal by Washington State before the Sun Devils got the ball back for their final drive. The Cougars missed that field goal attempt initially, but Washington State got a timeout off in time. On the retry, the Cougars made it.

— Eno Benjamin got the 12th 100-yard rushing game of his career. That ties him for sixth in program history for most 100-yard rushing performances. The all-time leader for ASU in that category is Woody Green, who had 21 such games from 1971 to 1973. All 12 of Benjamins’ 100-yard rushing games have come against different teams.

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