Instant recap: Utah spoils senior night for ASU football

The Sun Devils couldn't keep up with the high-flying Utes, suffering their fourth straight loss in conference

A night that started with Senior Night celebration ended in disappointment as ASU football dropped its final home game of the season 49-26 to No. 15 Utah on Thursday.

The loss marked the fourth straight for the Sun Devils (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) and brought their record back down to .500 for the first time all season.

It was a sloppy start to the game for both teams as turnovers littered the first quarter. Utah fumbled on its first play from scrimmage when junior quarterback Troy Williams couldn't handle the snap, giving ASU the ball deep in Utes territory.

However, the Sun Devils couldn't take advantage of the early opportunity. Manny Wilkins was intercepted in the back of the end zone by Utah junior free safety Marcus Williams, bringing things right back where they started.

But Utah doubled-down on its opening-drive mistake with yet another fumble, this time on a failed option attempt. ASU's ensuing drive stalled, but senior kicker Zane Gonzalez was true from 24 yards away and the Sun Devils stuck first with a 3-0 lead.

ASU found pay dirt on its next drive with the first touchdown of the game just a few minutes later. The Sun Devils went 67 yards in 1:55, thanks in part to a long toss down the sideline from freshman wide receiver N'keal Harry to fellow wideout redshirt senior Frederick Gammage to set up the score. Junior running back Kalen Ballage capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run — his 12th of the season — out of the Sparky formation, putting ASU in command out of the gates, 10-0.

After another Gonzalez field goal brought the lead to 13, Utah's offense finally started to find it's rhythm entering the second quarter. The Utes got back in the game with a 64-yard pass from Williams to sophomore receiver Raelon Singleton, bringing the margin to down to six.

As Utah's offense continued to warm up in the second quarter, ASU's suddenly cooled off with back-to-back three-and-outs, losing the lead in the process. A 27-yard touchdown toss from Williams to freshman wide receiver Siaosi Wilson erased Utah's early deficit.

The Sun Devils would respond with their best drive of the night after a lackluster offensive effort for much of the second quarter. ASU went nearly the entire length of the field (92 yards) to regain the lead with its second touchdown of the night. Harry finished off the possession with a 31-yard touchdown scamper on a botched trick play, and the Sun Devils took the lead once again, 20-14.

But that lead wouldn't stand up for long as Utah went right down the field on its final drive of the half. Williams found Singleton in the back of the end zone with no one around for the duo's second hookup of the night, sending the Sun Devils into the locker room trailing 21-20. 

After ASU was forced to punt on its opening drive of the half, the Utes picked up right where they left off. Senior running back Joe Williams took Utah's first play following the kick 82 yards to the house, extending the lead to 28-20.

The Sun Devils got on the second-half scoreboard late in the third quarter to cut into the deficit. Wilkins' jump ball at the pylon was pulled in by senior receiver Tim White and capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive for ASU. The subsequent two-point conversion was no good, leaving the score at 28-26 heading into the final period of play.

As was the theme of the evening, Utah responded with another big play that went for a score. Two plays after facing a 1st and 35 following consecutive penalties, Williams found Singleton yet again for a 24-yard touchdown connection — the fourth score through the air for Williams — increasing the lead to 35-26. Singleton torched the Sun Devils secondary to the tune of 116 yards and three touchdowns.

The game unraveled from there for ASU. A pick-six from Utah sophomore defensive back Chase Hansen all but put the game away for the Utes at 42-26. Wilkins ended the night 19-of 31 for 309 yards, including a touchdown and two interceptions.

Utah added insult to injury with one last score before the final whistle. Utes running back Joe Williams tacked on a 40-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes to bring the score to its final margin of 49-26.

Things don't get any easier for the Sun Devils next week as the team will look to rebound with a tough road matchup against No. 4 Washington next Saturday in Seattle.


Reach the reporter at mfaye@asu.edu or follow @mattGfaye on Twitter.

Like State Press Sports on Facebook and follow @statepresssport on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.