TEMPE, Ariz. – Yes, it was that wide open.
And the 50-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds for the Arizona State Sun Devils might have gone a long way toward closing out any talk of the Washington Huskies going to a bowl game in coach Steve Sarkisian’s first season.
A pretty game, it was not. Gritty, yes – to go along with some ugly penalties. But in the end, all that mattered was that Danny Sullivan found Chris McGaha streaking alone behind the UW defense with five seconds remaining to lift the Sun Devils to a 24-17 victory.
“I don’t know what they were playing (in coverage), to be honest with you,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said shortly afterward. “Some kind of two-deep (zone).”
This game appeared headed for overtime, but when McGaha pushed past strong safety Victor Aiweya, nobody went with him along the right seam.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant tried getting over there, but McGaha hauled in the pass at the Huskies’ 10 and waltzed in with five seconds to go.
“We just blew the last play – let him go,” Trufant said.
Jake Locker’s last-play heave ended up being a duck, and it was picked off by Ryan McFoy at the Sun Devils’ 10-yard line.
“Seven games in, each game gets crazier and crazier,” Sarkisian said. “But we have the opportunity to win, and it was not easy tonight. We need to regroup and watch the plays and get ready for our next games.”
Trailing for three-quarters of the game, Washington’s defense held when Thomas Weber missed a 40-yard field goal with less than seven minutes remaining, and Locker directed a series in which he went 3-of-4, including a scramble on which he lofted a pass down the left sideline where only the 6-foot-2 Jermaine Kearse could go up and get it. Kearse did for a 32-yard gain.
But Huskies stalled at the ASU 11, and Erik Folk – who missed a 48-yard field goal at the end of the first half – booted a 29-yarder to tie it at 17 with 3:50 remaining.
ASU nudged just past midfield on its next drive but was forced to punt from the Huskies’ 46, giving the visitors a chance to go for a winning score of some kind.
But the Huskies tried two Chris Polk runs, then a long pass to James Johnson that fell incomplete, and were forced to punt – setting up Sullivan’s touchdown strike on the game’s next play.
“They’ve won a couple like that,” said Erickson, referring to the Huskies’ good-bounce 36-33 win over Arizona last week. “It evens out.”
Late in the third quarter, Polk made something out of nothing, bouncing off two ASU defenders in the middle of the field and breaking off a 23-yard TD scamper to trim the Sun Devils’ lead to 17-14 at the 1:18 mark.
ASU had taken a 17-7 lead on Weber’s 24-yard field goal two minutes earlier.
For the fourth time this season, the Huskies led off the game with a touchdown-scoring series – aided by one of a handful of Vontaze Burfict personal-foul penalties.
Washington appeared stopped on third-and-9 when Locker’s pass was deflected – and a near-interception was knocked down by guard Senio Kelemete – at the line of scrimmage. But the first of three Burfict unsportsmanlike infractions gave the Huskies a first down at the ASU 49.
On the next play, Locker sailed a 49-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Devin Aguilar on a crossing route from the right seam, and the Huskies had a 7-0 advantage.
ASU tied it almost immediately – in 2:59 – on its first drive, mixing in the short passing game from Sullivan with a little trickery. A 30-yard double-reverse run by receiver T.J. Simpson put the Sun Devils in UW territory, and Sullivan scored four plays later on a 1-yard plunge.
Simpson was in on another ASU gadget play, this time on the opening play of the second quarter, hauling in a 32-yard pass from receiver Kyle Williams in the back of the end zone for a 14-7 Sun Devils lead.
After a Locker interception by McFoy near the ASU goal line thwarted a UW scoring chance on a penalty-filled series, the Sun Devils were knocking on the door again when Sullivan hit Gerrell Robinson on a short screen pass in the left flat.
Robinson broke free and had a crease to the end zone – only to have UW linebacker Mason Foster come over and knock the ball free.
A mad scramble for the ball in the end zone – Nate Fellner jumped on it, but it squirted out – ended when Simpson flew over the top of a pile and knocked it out of the end zone for a touchback at the 6:08 mark of the second quarter.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442
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