Instant recap: Oregon 61, ASU 55

The Sun Devils fell to the Ducks in a triple overtime shootout thriller

The power running game ASU football was expected to implement with a one-two punch of sophomore running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage with immediate impact didn't go as planned from week one. 

Both missed time with illness or injury, but in Saturday's 61-55 loss to Oregon at Sun Devil Stadium Thursday night, the dynamic duo went on a tour de force.

Hampered by weak and inconsistent special teams play, the Sun Devils (4-4) trailed 17-14 at the half, but junior kicker Zane Gonzalez found redemption for three first half misses and nailed a game-tying 28-yard field goal with 11:39 to go in the third quarter. 

Freshman defensive back Kareem Orr ignited the comeback with an interception of Oregon senior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. 

The Sun Devils surged ahead of the Ducks (5-3) 24-17 when Richard sprung free for a 22-yard touchdown run to cap a four-play, 41-yard drive with 9:27 in the third quarter.

The low-scoring lull of the first half quickly dissipated with the clouds and rain that had ominously hung over the stadium lights. 

This game was far from over. 

Richard found the end zone again five and a half minutes later, when he hauled in a one-yard touchdown pass from redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici to give ASU its largest lead at 31-20. 

Oregon sophomore safety Charles Nelson ran back a Zane Gonzalez kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and redshirt sophomore Kani Beniot exploded for a 62-yard touchdown run to seal a drive that lasted a mere 40 seconds to seize the lead right back for the Ducks. 

The kick return touchdown was the first allowed by ASU since Navy's GeeGee Green ran back a kick 96 yards for a score on Dec. 29, 2012.

Gonzalez found a rhythm, finishing a methodical drive with a 33-yard field goal, and relentless pressure on Adams finally paid off to get the Sun Devils a key stop. ASU sacked Adams five times and the defense was credited with four pass breakups. 

On the ensuing ASU drive, Bercovici found redshirt junior wide receiver Tim White for a gain of 29 yards, and redshirt senior wide receiver Devin Lucien hauled in a 13-yard catch to bring the Sun Devils inside the Oregon five-yard line. 

Bercovici hit redshirt junior tight end Kody Kohl on a lob pass off his back foot, as Kohl originally appeared to be a blocker, and he used this temporary deception to spring to his feet and run to the corner of the end zone where he found himself all alone for the go-ahead score.  

He finished 32 for 53 with 398 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Adams threw for 315 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. 

Richard ran for 135 yards on 19 carries, Ballage rushed for 127 yards on 12 carries, and ASU had four receivers record 70 or more yards on at least three catches.  

But none of the back-and-forth scoring runs or lead changes could have prepared the crowd for a wild conclusion to regulation: Adams flung a prayer to the back of the end zone and redshirt junior Dwayne Stanford hung on while colliding with a teammate in midair for the eight-yard touchdown to tie the game and send it overtime.

Adams connected with the veteran target in Stanford for a 25-yard touchdown on a screen play to open the overtime period, and Bercovici answered with a two-yard touchdown pass to Tim White. 

The teams traded scores for two more overtime periods,  including an 18-yard rushing touchdown by Bercovici and a one-yard rushing touchdown by Oregon running back Royce Freeman. 

The Ducks scored the game-winning touchdown on a controversial play in the back of the end zone, as Bralon Addison appeared to have stepped out of bounds before catching a 20-yard pass from Adams that was reviewed and upheld. 

Bercovici completed a 22-yard pass to White to bring the Sun Devils to the Oregon three yard line, but he threw an interception into the waiting arms of sophomore cornerback Arrion Springs on first down to seal the win for the Ducks. 

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly identified a player and a position.


Reach the sports editor at smodrich@asu.edu or follow @StefanJModrich on Twitter.

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