Sun Devils received too much Love in a 34-24 loss to Stanford

ASU gives up 301 rushing yards to Stanford running back Bryce Love

Stanford junior running back Bryce Love rushed for 301 yards against ASU.

Those yards cemented the the Cardinal's (3-2, 2-1 Pac-12) defeat over the Sun Devils (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12) 34-24.

Love entered Saturday's game with 787 rushing yards, which was the most in the nation. He left it with 1,088 rushing yards, so he will likely remain on that perch.

"At the end of the day, we gave up too many big plays in the run game," ASU head coach Todd Graham said. "You can't give up that many yards rushing and have a chance."  

Love broke the Stanford single-game rushing yardage record of 284 yards with his performance. That record was previously held by Christian McCaffrey, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2015 and now plays with the Carolina Panthers.

"They do what they do, and they are good at what they do," senior defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood said. "They didn't do nothing special. They executed their game plan." 

The Cardinal blocked very well for Love all game, and when he hit open space he was deadly.

Love scored that 61-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game. He evaded a tackler in the backfield, followed his block from a lineman and was off to the races. 

The junior scored on a similar play with 0:44 left in the first quarter, except this time he only ran from 43 yards out. 

In both those scores, senior safety Chad Adams failed to stop Love in the open field.

"The guy is really hard to tackle," Graham said. "Every play that he broke we had someone there unblocked and couldn't tackle him."

ASU faced a 14-3 deficit by the time the second quarter came around, but managed to shrink the lead.

Senior running back Demario Richard scored a three-yard touchdown at 7:25 in the second. With less than two minutes until half, sophomore wide receiver N'Keal Harry joined in on the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Ceejhay French-Love from the Sparky formation. 

Harry was featured multiple times in the Sparky formation and ran three times for 40 yards. 

"We spent a lot on time on that (in practice), just getting all the technical stuff with that down. I think we did a pretty good job using it tonight," Harry said.

Stanford still scored 10 points in the second quarter. It took a 24-17 halftime lead with a touchdown pass to Cardinal junior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside and a field goal that came just before the break. 

The Cardinal pulled away in the third quarter. Love extended the lead to 31-17 with a 59-yard score in which he ran through a vast gap almost untouched, serving as another example of the crisp blocks from the Stanford offensive line.

Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins threw an interception on the next drive, his second of the game.

Wilkins threw a school-record 192 straight passes without an interception until his first throw in the second quarter of this game. 

"I just have got to put us in a better position to score points," Wilkins said. "Obviously I didn't play my best game – I didn't give us an opportunity to win this football game."

The Sun Devils struck back with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Richard late in the fourth quarter. Richard led ASU in both rushing (80) and receiving yardage (57).

But Stanford iced the game with a 22-yard field goal, and went on to win 34-24. Love gained the last of his 301 rushing yards on that scoring drive. 

This game was all about Love, who became just the third player since 2004 to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in his team's first five games. 


Reach the reporter at mpharri7@asu.edu or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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