ASU football can't pull off late comeback in San Diego

The Sun Devils' final offensive drive ended in dramatic fashion

Was it a catch? That will be the question ASU football fans will ask for the days after the Sun Devils controversial finish in San Diego that resulted in a 28-21 loss to the San Diego State Aztecs.

After San Diego State (2-1) scored with 4:14 left in the game, the Aztecs 14-point lead looked to be sealed as the struggling Sun Devils offense took the field.

Redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins took over the drive as he completed eight passes and rushed for 15 yards with another Manny-esque hurdle. On the last play of the drive, Wilkins found junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry on a fade route to the left side of the end zone for a seven-yard score. 

At that point the No. 23 Sun Devils (2-1) were down 28-21 with 1:40 left. After a failed onside kick, the game looked all but over for ASU. 

SDSU managed the second half perfectly as they ran the ball and chewed the clock. After two SDSU plays on their last drive, ASU head coach Herm Edwards used one of his last two timeouts to save some clock with 51 seconds left. 

Coming out of the timeout, the Aztecs needed a first down to seal the deal and move on with a win. Redshirt sophomore running back Chase Jasmin ran through the first line of defense and made it to the open field, capitalizing on the defensive miscue – until the tackle. Senior linebacker Jay Jay Wilson stripped the ball out before Jasmin fell to the ground. Sophomore corner back  Langston Frederick recovered the ball – giving ASU hope.

The Sun Devils had 43 seconds to drive 77 yards for a game-tying touchdown. 

After four-straight incompletions and a timeout by SDSU, the Sun Devils needed to find a way to move the chains. ASU went for it all when Wilkins threw a deep ball in the middle of the field to double covered redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frank Darby. Darby came down with the ball on the two-yard line and was leveled as he landed. SDSU’s redshirt sophomore safety Trenton Thompson was flagged for targeting, and the play was under review – as all targeting plays are.

After review the referee ruled that the targeting stood and Thompson would be ejected, but the kicker to the decision was that Darby did not complete the catch. 

“They’re going to look at every facet of they play,” Edwards said. “It just happened to be that they said he didn’t catch it. We thought he caught it. Felt like we had a good play dialed up to maybe score, but it didn’t work out that way.” 

The Sun Devils were forced to move back to the SDSU 35-yard line.

“I promise y’all I caught that pass,” Darby said after the game. “I was coming down and he head butted me and I fell. I put the ball on the ground and ran to the sideline to get some treatment.” 

The Sun Devils had no other option but to throw a prayer toward the end zone on the final play of the game.

Wilkins slung the ball in the air looking for a teammate, but Aztecs senior safety Parker Baldwin swatted the ball away to give the Aztecs the 28-21 win.  

The Sun Devils chance to stay in the top-25 dwindled away in the last seconds. The team will be heading to Seattle to take on the No. 10 Washington Huskies Sept. 22nd on ESPN at 7:30 pm.

Reach the reporter at or follow @SebastianEman5 on Twitter. 

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