The Sun Devils (1-1) were embarrassed at home against the San Diego State Aztecs (2-0), losing 30-20 in a game that seemed out of reach from the start.
ASU’s defense quickly burst out of the gates on the opening drive with back-to-back sacks from redshirt senior defensive lineman Alani Latu and senior devil backer Koron Crump. However, the Sun Devils weren’t able to respond with a score.
The Aztecs capitalized on their second offensive possession with a 95-yard rushing touchdown on third and six from senior running back Rashaad Penny. It was the third longest run in SDSU history.
Halfway through the first quarter, both teams’ offenses stalled, combining for 27 yards on the ensuing two drives.
The Sun Devils finally found some offensive firepower to end the first quarter on a 9-play, 85-yard drive concluding with a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Kalen Ballage.
SDSU took the noise out of the crowd with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Penny to open the second quarter.
Despite a need to respond to Penny’s dominance, ASU failed to gain more than a yard on its first possession of the second quarter.
With the help of Penny, the Aztecs’ junior quarterback Christian Chapman took advantage of a sluggish ASU defense by putting together an 11-play, 43-yard drive ending with a field goal.
Sophomore receiver N’keal Harry brought ASU within a score after finishing off a much needed seven-play, 77-yard drive ending with a five-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone with 4:54 left in the half.
The back-and-forth fight continued until the end of the first half with SDSU’s junior kicker John Baron II hitting a 27-yard field goal to send both teams to halftime with ASU trailing 20-14.
Before fans could return to their seats, ASU’s offensive line started off the third quarter by allowing redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins to get sacked. The hit resulted in a fumble that the Sun Devils were lucky to recover.
In spite of a weak five-play drive, ASU found hope in a strange fumble return for a touchdown on the punt. However, after further review the referees determined the SDSU ball carrier was tackled prior to the turnover.
Following the strange special teams occurrence, neither offense found a rhythm until the third quarter neared a close.
The Aztecs found their grove on an eleven-play, 58-yard drive that looked ready to end in a field goal after the Sun Devils forced SDSU into a third and 21.
Chapman sparked the Aztecs when he dropped back and eluded multiple defenders to find Penny in the flats for a 33-yard score.
Wilkins responded by having a deep throw to Harry ruled incomplete and then fumbling twice on one play. The second fumble was recovered by SDSU, giving the Aztecs possession. Another successful Baron field goal capped off the third quarter.
ASU entered the final quarter facing a 16-point deficit, and quickly began piecing together an offensive drive. However, the Sun Devils’ 10-play, 75-yard drive was in jeopardy as Wilkins and company faced a third and forty-two.
After an offside penalty made it third and thirty-seven redshirt freshman wide receiver Frank Darby nabbed a deep ball from Wilkins bringing hope to ASU fans with 8:34 left in the game.
A failed two-point conversion quickly shattered any hope, as ASU was still trailing by 10 following the touchdown.
Despite having a sizeable chunk of time to make a comeback, the Sun Devils failed to fight back against a punishing Aztec team.
ASU will travel to Texas next week for a non-conference game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-0) on Sept. 16.
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