Fork Report: Devils dominated in Pac-12 Championship Game
TEMPE, Ariz. — And the wait continues.
ASU’s hopes of ending a 17-year absence in the Rose Bowl will be extended by another year, at least. The Sun Devils lose the Pac-12 Championship Game, defeated 38-14 by Stanford in front of near-sellout crowd of 69,535 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Stanford beats ASU for the second time this season, and as was the case in the first meeting in September, the Sun Devils could not stop the Cardinal’s rushing attack. Tyler Gaffney gained 133 yards on 22 carries. He scored three times. Ty Montgomery added a rushing score and Stanford scored on its first four possessions for a 28-14 halftime lead.
The loss snapped ASU’s seven-game winning streak.
D.J. Foster’s first-quarter 51-yard touchdown run was a career-long, besting his previous high of 29 yards. The 51-yard gain surpassed ASU’s entire rushing total (50 yards on 24 carries) in the first meeting against Stanford.
Foster’s second quarter 65-yard touchdown reception set a new Pac-12 Championship Game record for longest pass play, but was surpassed later in the game by Stanford when Kevin Hogan hit Devon Cajuste on a 78-yard reception that set up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Special teams. Special teams. Special teams. Alex Garoutte had one punt go 16 yards and another 25 yards, handing Stanford a short field. Meanwhile, kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 31-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, ending his streak of a school-record 18 consecutive makes. His last miss was a 45-yard attempt at Stanford.
The Sun Devils defense allowed a season-high 14 first quarter points. ASU entered the game outscoring its opponents 120-43 in the opening quarter, including seven times posting a shutout.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Trailing 31-14, ASU had the ball facing a 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but quarterback Michael Eubank was stopped for no gain. A 4th-and-goal running play was stopped as well and ASU turned the ball over on downs. Stanford took over, marched down field and scored, putting the game out of reach.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tyler Gaffney. The Stanford running back’s three rushing touchdowns tied the Pac-12 Championship Game records set by Oregon’s LaMichael James in 2011 for most rushing touchdowns and most touchdowns scored while also tying James’ records of most points scored (18) and most 100-plus yard rushing performances (one) in conference championship game history.
• Foster appeared to injury his left leg/knee on the Sun Devils’ first series in the third quarter. He was fitted with a brace and returned to the game on the team’s next possession.
• With a fourth quarter fumble recovery, ASU extended its streak of forcing a turnover to 26 straight games, the third-longest streak in the nation.
• In 26 games under head coach Todd Graham, tonight marked just the fifth time ASU had not scored first. ASU had scored first in 10 of 12 games this year.
HE SAID IT
“(Stanford) dominated the game. Beat us in every way you can tonight, so I want to congratulate them and give them a lot of credit. They’re a championship team,” Graham said. “The number one thing that I’m disappointed about is the kicking game. I mean, you can’t have a chance in the championship game and play special teams like that, and that’s ultimately my responsbility.”
The Sun Devils (10-3) await their bowl destination. They will either head to the Alamo Bowl (December 30 vs. Big 12 opponent) or Holiday Bowl (December 30 vs. Big 12 opponent). The announcement comes Sunday. Regardless of the bowl game, coverage can be found on the Sun Devils’ flagship station Arizona Sports 620 with pregame beginning two hours prior to kickoff.