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ASU football leaves Pasadena with control over its destiny

The 42-23 win over No. 20 UCLA leaves ASU with sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South

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ASU graduate student defensive back Jack Jones (0) blocks UCLA wide receiver Chase Cota (23) at the beginning of a play at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. ASU won 42-23.

ASU football survived a second-quarter shootout to beat No. 20 UCLA 42-23, taking possession of first in the Pac-12 South. It was the first ASU win on the road after losing to No. 23 Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah on Sept. 18, 27-17.

Aside from the second quarter, the game was low-scoring. 

UCLA scored only three points outside of the second frame, and ASU scored half its points in the second quarter alone. A total of 41 points were scored in the second quarter, with ASU just edging UCLA with 21 points.

With starting redshirt freshman wide receiver Johnny Wilson out, junior quarterback Jayden Daniels and offensive coordinator Zak Hill worked to get junior wide receiver Ricky Pearsall the ball. He finished with four receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

"It felt great, coach Hill was dialing it up," Daniels said. "We knew all week we had mismatches, we just took advantage of what was given to us."

Daniels, who returned to his home state of California for the game, was incredibly efficient. He threw for 286 yards and 13 catches on 19 attempts with two touchdowns.

"It was a huge team win," Daniels said. "I know a lot of guys are from southern California. It means a lot to me personally, but I know it means a lot to the whole team. Being so close to here, it felt good to come back home and get a win for (my friends and family)."

Daniels matched his season total for passing touchdowns in the game. He says the team is not "completely there yet," but the team is on the right track.

The night was a strong showing by the offense as a whole, but the team was not satisfied.

"I thought our guys executed the game plan well," Hill said. "We weren't as polished as we needed to be, but we hit things when we needed too."

Defensively, the team struggled to contain senior UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson on the ground,   giving up 23 points in the first half. Going into the second half, the Sun Devils adjusted and held UCLA to zero points in the second half.

Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce said containing Thompson-Robinson was "a very difficult challenge" but he is proud of how ASU's defense responded.

ASU registered its fewest penalties all season with only six for 51 yards.

The game was also sophomore running back DeaMonte Trayanum's first since the season opener against Southern Utah University. He led the team with 16 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown.

"There was definitely some rust to knock off, even in the flow of practice," Trayanum said. "Once I got the first few plays under my belt I was rolling."

Even with the Sun Devils boasting a deep running back room with redshirt senior Rachaad White and redshirt freshman Daniyel Ngata, having Trayanum back meant a lot to the Sun Devil offense.

"It was great having Chip (Trayanum) back, having that one-two punch with Rachaad and Chip, and having Daniyel too in the wings ready to go," Hill said. "Chip just provides that physicality. Anytime you have both of those guys rolling it's difficult."

ASU football will take on Stanford University on Friday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. MST in Tempe.

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