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ASU football rallies from late double-digit deficit, defeats Washington 35-30

Rachaad White once again put the Sun Devil offense on his back to help defeat the Huskies

ASU v Washington

ASU redshirt senior running back Rachaad White (3) rushes for a short gain against Washington at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash., on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. ASU won 35-30.

ASU football rallied back down the stretch in the rain to defeat Washington 35-30 in Seattle on Saturday night.

The Sun Devils trailed 24-14 with under six minutes left in the game. But ASU's running game, led by redshirt senior running back Rachaad White, methodically pushed down the field on two consecutive drives to take the lead. White gave the Sun Devils a 28-24 lead with his go-ahead 10-yard touchdown with 1:11 left in the game.

Then, with ASU just needing to hold Washington out of the end zone in the final minute to win the game, senior linebacker Merlin Robertson intercepted a Washington pass and returned it for a pick six, effectively putting the game away.

On Saturday, White continued his remarkable season for the Sun Devils, finishing with a dominant 184 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. Especially given the rain, White's runs were incredibly timely, as it seemed like any time the Sun Devils need a conversion, the ball went to White and he made things happen. White accounted for more than 63% of ASU's total yardage on Saturday.

"He's literally carrying the offense on his back right now," ASU head coach Herm Edwards said about White's dominance. "The offensive line is doing a nice job or creating some running lanes for him."

The rain was coming down hard in Seattle on Saturday, especially in the second half. Edwards said it was a major factor in ASU's decision to lean heavily on the running game.

"It's just methodically moving the ball and it was just kind of fun to watch," Edwards said. "The conditions made it difficult to throw it at times because the ball was slippery at times."

In addition to White's elusiveness, strong blocking from the ASU offensive line was a major reason White and the Sun Devils were able to gash up the Washington defense down the stretch of the game. White has developed a nice rapport with the Sun Devil offensive line this season and it showed in the final couple drives of the game. 

"I feel like that's what complete domination feels like, and I love it," ASU junior offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson said. "As an offensive lineman, if we could do that every game for the rest of my life, I'd be so down for that."

Even though the team trailed by double digits on multiple occasions Saturday, the team remained confident and rolled with the punches, Henderson said.

"I felt like we just did not blink at all. When it was 14-0, didn't blink, 17-7, didn't blink," Henderson said. "When we were down, everyone was so locked in and energy was high and the energy never took a dip." 

A huge turning point in the game for ASU happened in the third quarter when it was trailing 17-7 and graduate student defensive lineman Tyler Johnson recovered a Husky fumble and took it all the way back to the Washington 9-yard line. The play set up a then struggling ASU offense with a short field and allowed White to run it in and get the Sun Devils within three points.  

According to Johnson, that play was a byproduct of him continuing to fight and sticking to the script the defensive coaches laid out for him and his teammates.

"That's what AP (defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce) goes on and on about during the week," Johnson said. "No matter what happens, you play the next play, you move on, and that particular play I just stuck to my keys."

This win moves ASU to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in play Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils sit in second in the Pac-12 South behind Utah, who ASU lost to on Oct. 16. Utah thus holds the tiebreaker over ASU and would have to lose its final two games of the season for ASU to have a chance at appearing in the Pac-12 Championship game. 

ASU will head back to Tempe to practice this week but will be right back in the Pacific Northwest on Nov. 20 for its next contest against Oregon State at 8:30 p.m. MST.

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