Arizona State rushing attack gives Kenny Dillingham first Pac-12 win
Oct 29, 2023, 12:27 AM
(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)
TEMPE – After three weeks in a row of narrow defeats, Arizona State football finally got back in the win column on Saturday against Washington State.
The 38-27 victory was Sun Devil head coach Kenny Dillingham’s first Pac-12 win of his career and snapped ASU’s six-game losing streak. The 38 points were the most the Sun Devils have scored this season and the first time they have reached the 30-point mark.
“I’m not relieved at all,” Dillingham said. “Like I’m happy. It’s going to be a great night. Fun night, great. But it’s still about the process. Like we’re four plays away from probably losing the game too. But the feeling is a little bit different at night. And that’s where people get wrapped up in. They get wrapped up in the feeling of winning, which is fun. But at the end of the day, I’m worried about the process. So I want to go back to work and find out what we can be better at and where we can grow from.”
ASU (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12) did what it wanted to on the ground, with running backs DeCarlos Brooks and Cam Skattebo running all over the Washington State (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) defense.
Brooks rushed for 67 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns on the night while Skattebo rushed for 121 yards and a score. Skattebo had the biggest play of the game, rushing 66 yards to set up his touchdown run.
Brooks started off the scoring for the Sun Devils with a 13-yard hurdle into the end zone for a touchdown. He punched it in from one yard out for ASU’s second touchdown. And then with the Sun Devils leading 31-24 early in the fourth quarter, Brooks scored from eight yards out to give ASU an important two-score lead late in the game.
While the running backs were the catalysts in the game, it ended up being a wide receiver who scored the game-winning touchdown for the Sun Devils. Up 24-21 early in the third quarter, ASU wideout Elijhah Badger took an end around for six yards into the end zone. The touchdown and kicker Dario Longhetto’s ensuing extra point were all ASU ended up needing on the night as the Cougars scored 27 points.
Overall, the Sun Devils had 39 attempts on the ground for a season-high 235 yards.
Dillingham talked about what led to the success of the ground game on Saturday.
“(Offensive) line moved people,” Dillingham said. “… The effort after the ball was handed off. 11 people just doing their job. That was point blank. It’s not a magical scheme. The guys just went out there and they played hard and they executed.”
The game was a shootout in the first half but Longhetto was able to tack on a season-long 51-yard field goal at the end of the first half to send the Sun Devils into the locker room leading 24-21. ASU never trailed again for the rest of the game, handing Washington State its fourth loss in a row.
The ASU defense did its job in the second half, limiting the Cougars to just two field goals and stopping them on a fourth and goal situation toward the end of the game to seal the win. Overall, the Sun Devil defense had eight tackles for loss, three sacks and 14 quarterback hits in the win.
ASU linebacker Travion Brown talked about the fourth down stop late after the game.
“Obviously, we were up two scores, so we were trying not to let them score at all,” Brown said. “That’s the goal. And we executed. We executed on our plays. We had good communication, which was one of the big keys to the stop. … And our (defensive) line was eating tonight. I got to give it to them.”
The Sun Devils travel to one of the most hostile environments in the Pac-12 in Rice-Eccles Stadium to face Utah on Nov. 4. The Utes (6-2, 3-2) were blown out 35-6 at home against No. 8 Oregon on Saturday. The game kicks off at 11 a.m.