Stifling defense carries ASU football to 20-14 win over Florida State in Sun Bowl

The Sun Devils forced six total Seminole turnovers

ASU football's (8-5) defense locked down Florida State (6-7) to win the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl 20-14 on Tuesday afternoon. 

The Sun Devil defense forced six total turnovers from the Seminoles, four of those coming from interceptions thrown by redshirt sophomore quarterback James Blackman.

Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels completed 12 of 28 passes for 195 yards and won the C.M. Hendricks MVP award for his performance.

The game began immediately as a slugfest, with the first half of play featuring five total turnovers and a blocked field goal.

FSU forced two fumbles from redshirt freshman running back AJ Carter in the first half. He lost the ball on the first play from scrimmage and another early in the second quarter.

ASU defensive backs Aashari Crosswell and Evan Fields each intercepted passes from Blackman  in the first half, with Crosswell's coming in the red zone shortly after Carter's first fumble.

The Seminoles attempted a field goal on their second drive of the game, but Sun Devil defensive back Chase Lucas broke though the line to block the kick.

Sophomore linebacker Merlin Robertson forced a strip-sack fumble late in the first quarter, which he recovered to place the ASU offense in the red zone. 

Redshirt sophomore kicker Cristian Zendejas scored the only points in the first half for either team, kicking three field goals to bring the score to 9-0 after 30 minutes of play.

After multiple unsuccessful drives to start the second half, FSU engineered an 11 play, 91 yard drive in under four minutes to score the game's first touchdown, a run from redshirt sophomore wide receiver Ontaria Wilson.

The Seminoles came back a drive later to score on a 91-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tamorrion Terry to take a 14-9 lead.

ASU's offense continued to struggle to produce momentum in the second half, punting away its first three drives before scoring a field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

On FSU's ensuing drive, sophomore defensive back Willie Harts intercepted Blackman and took it into the endzone for ASU's first and only touchdown of the game and gave the team a 20-14 lead.

An interception from redshirt senior linebacker Khaylan Kearse-Thomas and a fumble recovery from redshirt junior defensive lineman Tyler Johnson on FSU's final two drives sealed the win.

The win marks the first bowl victory for ASU since 2014 when it defeated Duke 36-31 in the Sun Bowl.

Head coach Herm Edwards noted the importance of the win for the team's seniors. 

"It's the last time a lot of 'em will ever play football," Edwards said. "When you think about your season ending at a bowl, and you win, it says something."

Harts lauded the defense's performance and detailed the heights their group can reach. 

"It shows the potential for our defense, for how strong we're going to become," Harts said. "Because we're very young and still inexperienced, and we're going to learn so much over the years."

Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the final score. The article has been updated to reflect the correct score.


Reach the reporter at jhorst2@asu.edu and follow @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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