Defense helps Mizzou preserve lead over ASU

For the third straight week ASU faced a backup quarterback. Unlike the Sun Devils’ past two opponents, Missouri redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and others rose to the challenge and beat ASU 24-20.

Despite throwing one interception, Berkstresser was successful in carefully managing the game and got the ball to Missouri’s playmakers to win the game.

“He played great,” Missouri senior receiver T.J. Moe said. “He’s a young, quality guy with lot of talent. He’s a tough kid, and I think he did a really good job of sitting in the pocket, taking some hits and picking himself up.”

Berkstresser completed half of his passes and threw for 198 yards to help the Tigers to victory.

He did not have a touchdown through the air. Like the man that starts in front of him, he was a dual threat and did score one on six-yard push into the end zone.

Junior starting quarterback James Franklin wore a headset and acted like another quarterbacks coach on the field.

“He helped me a lot tonight,” Berkstresser said. “Every time I came to the sideline he was there to help me, whether it was (about) my footwork or telling me what to watch out for.”

Offensively, the senior, Moe, filled the void left by the shoulder injury that sidelined Franklin.

Moe lead the team with eight catches for 88 yards. He was the consistent target for the young Berkstresser, coming down with most balls that the inexperienced quarterback threw to him.

The Tigers’ offense only had 318 total yards. Due to ASU turnovers and penalties, Missouri was gifted with excellent field position early in the game.

Missouri seized the opportunity and scored a field goal and two touchdowns on the ground with Berkstresser and senior running back Kendial Lawrence. The Tigers went into the half with a 17-7 lead.

ASU gained some momentum right as the half was ending after freshman running back D.J. Foster scored on 33-yard screen play.

For the second week in a row, the Tigers were unable to put a team away in the second half.

When Missouri faced Georgia, the Tigers were out-scored by the Bulldogs by 21 points. ASU, led two touchdowns by junior running back Marion Grice, put up 13 points on the Tigers.

Mizzou only scored seven points in the half after a goal line touchdown run by Lawrence.

“We were very conservative and at the end,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “We felt we were going to have to win with our defense, and that’s why we made decisions from that standpoint.”

The Tigers sealed the win with their defense, especially at the end of the game.

ASU redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly had two opportunities to win late in the game. The Sun Devils were down four points at the end of the game because they could not get an extra point kick off due to poor snap.

One ASU drive ended with an incompletion intended for redshirt junior receiver Kevin Ozier. Then in the last seconds of the game, ASU was threatening the Tigers in the Missouri red zone again.

Then after two false starts by redshirt senior tackle Brice Schwab, the Sun Devils were backed up again.

Kelly made one last attempt at the end zone and over threw his intend target and redshirt senior safety Kenronte Walker intercepted the pass to put the nail on the ASU coffin.

“It shows remarkable will to battle,” Pinkel said. “The ball was first and goal on the two or three and we went out there and stopped them. That was fitting for those guys who battled all day.”

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu