Instant Recap: Sun Bowl ends in heartbreak for ASU football with loss to NC State

From start to finish, the Sun Devils looked several steps behind the Wolfpack

After a rambunctious month of December for ASU football,  the Sun Devils (7-6, 6-3 Pac-12) looked to carry Todd Graham off the field as a winner one final time. However, the North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-4, 6-2) crushed ASU 52-31 to win the 2017 Sun Bowl. 

ASU’s second offensive play ended with NC State taking over possession after sophomore wide receiver Kyle Williams fumbled at the end of a 22-yard catch and run. 

It didn’t take long for the Sun Devils’ defense to return the favor by stopping the Wolfpack’s fake field goal attempt from the ASU 4-yard line. 

Even with the help of the defensive stand, the Sun Devils' ensuing drive ended in a punt, only to have NC State strike back with a methodical 15-play touchdown drive.

NC State’s junior running back Nyheim Hines capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. 

The Sun Devils trailed 7-0 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.

ASU’s struggles continued as its following drive resulted in the team’s second punt.

As the Sun Devils remained stagnant, the Wolfpack offense marched 56 yards down the field to score yet again.

Hines punched in his second five-yard score of the day, putting NC State up 14-0 with 14:13 left in the first half. 

ASU caught a break on its next punt thanks to a NC State roughing the kicker penalty giving the Sun Devils a fresh set of downs.

The penalty sparked the ASU offense just enough for the Sun Devils to get on the board with a 24-yard field goal. 

ASU trailed 14-3 with 8:06 left in the first half. 

However, the Wolfpack offensive continued their dominance.

Hines would again find the end zone on his third five-yard touchdown run on the back of a 40-yard completion from redshirt graduate quarterback Ryan Finley, putting ASU behind NC State 21-3.

Nevertheless, redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins and company persisted. Wilkins completed a deep shot to sophomore wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who reeled in a 37-yard, jaw-dropping one-handed grab.

Harry wasn’t finished adding to his highlight reel and brought in a six-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone to give ASU its first touchdown of the game.

ASU fans were quickly left shaken after the Sun Devils failed to recover an outside kick attempt, giving NC State fantastic field position before the first half ended. 

The Wolfpack took advantage with a 49-yard scoring drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Finley to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. 

ASU missed a 43-yard field goal at the end of the half and trailed NC State 28-10.

The Sun Devils came out of halftime and forced the Wolfpack to punt for the first time all game.  

It didn’t take long for Harry to get back involved with a 34-yard snag, but a couple plays later, Wilkins was intercepted off a tipped pass. The turnover gave NC State possession inside the ASU 20-yard line. 

Even so, the Sun Devils’ defense came in clutch for the second time of the second half as they forced the Wolfpack to settle for a 26-yard field goal.

ASU trailed 31-10 with 8:20 left in the third quarter. 

For the second time in the game the Sun Devils were bailed out of a poor situation, this time a muffed punt gave ASU possession inside the Wolfpack 30-yard line. 

However, the next play Wilkins threw an ill-advised pass into double coverage only to have NC State intercept it.

ASU’s third turnover would prove to be a back breaker as the Wolfpack orchestrated a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. 

NC State’s junior tailback Reggie Gallaspy II burst to left side of the field for a 23-yard touchdown

The touchdown constricted any hope the Sun Devils may have had to construct the largest comeback in Sun Bowl history (22 points).

NC State led 38-10 with 14:54 left in the game.

As the final quarter winded down ASU's offense came to life, except it was a case of too little too late for the Sun Devils as they lost 52-31.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly reference North Carolina State University in the leading photo’s caption. The headline has also been updated with corrected spelling.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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