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Sun Devils fall to California in first away game of the season

ASU continues to face challenges with offense and injuries despite good defensive performance

ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham talks to the referees at the game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, September 9, 2023. ASU lost 27-15.

Penalties and inconsistent offense hindered the Sun Devils’ efforts to defeat the Golden Bears in Saturday’s matchup in Berkeley, resulting in a close 24-21 loss. 

During the third quarter, the referees called an ineligible substitution on ASU after having 12 men on the field during a play that resulted in a touchdown. The call resulted in a field goal, costing the Sun Devils four crucial points. 

ASU suffered another critical penalty late in the fourth quarter when redshirt junior defensive back Ed Woods was flagged for pass interference in the endzone on a fourth down. The call granted Cal a new set of downs and used the last of the Sun Devils’ timeouts.  

The penalties created a steep uphill battle, which the Sun Devil offense couldn’t climb out of despite having plenty of opportunities to score. 

“We’re getting closer,” head coach Kenny Dillingham said. “It’s not good enough, but we’re getting better.” 

Redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet played his first complete game of the season, throwing for 344 yards and completing 26 out of 41 passes. He also rushed for a touchdown and caught an 18-yard pass from junior running back Cam Skattebo to convert a first down in the first half.  

“I thought we had a great offensive game plan going in this week with Coach Dilly and Coach Baldwin drawing up some great plays,” Bourguet said. “We were able to get down to the red zone but couldn’t capitalize the way we wanted to.”  

Skattebo continued to be a productive option for the Sun Devils' offense after he scored a rushing touchdown, completed his only pass, and finished the game with 98 receiving yards and 59 rushing yards. Graduate student wide receiver Melquan Stovall and redshirt junior wide receiver Elijhah Badger lead the game in receiving yards, each finishing with 72 and 75 yards, respectively. 

ASU held Cal’s offense to 326 total yards, with graduate student defensive lineman Dashaun Mallory leading the defensive frontlines. Mallory had a career-high four tackles for loss and six combined tackles. Redshirt senior defensive back Shamari Simmons led the defense in combined tackles, recording 11 against Cal.  

The injury bug has also spread to the defense, as graduate linebacker Tre Brown suffered a non-contact injury during the game. 

No matter how much the defense has to perform on the field or the challenges that arise, the players are willing to rise to the occasion. 

“We look forward to the challenge every single week,” Mallory said. “Whatever the defense has got to do to go out there and keep the spark going, we’re willing to take on that challenge.” 

ASU returns home for their next matchup against Deion Sanders and Colorado on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Mountain America Stadium. 

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan

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