Sun Devils Overcome Error-Prone Beavers

Sean Mannion set Oregon St. records for pass attempts, 66, and completions, 40, Saturday night, but also served up 4 interceptions, and Arizona St. prevailed 35-20. (Photo by Getty Images)

Final Score: Arizona St. 35 Oregon St. 20

Arizona St. and their quarterback Brock Osweiler, overcame 3 interceptions, including two in the first quarter by Jordan Poyer, plus a fumble, and an early 13-0 Oregon St. lead, to pull away from the Beavers, error prone themselves, for a 35-20 win.

Nine turnovers and 19 penalties, as well as a pair of missed field goals, marred the game, and distorted the flow of the game. Oregon St. quarterback Sean Mannion completed more passes than Osweiler threw, but also threw one more interception. Moreover, the Beavers couldn't capitalize on the early Sun Devil miscues, which opened the door for Arizona St. when Oregon St. became the ones to make mistake after mistake.

For the second week in a row, Arizona St. made an opponent one dimensional, relying almost solely on the pass. And as a result, the Sun Devils won by multiple touchdowns.

The Beavers won the toss, and chose to take the ball, a demonstration of the sense of urgency to get off to a fast start. But Jovan Stevenson, who got the start at running back in the absence of Malcolm Agnew, still out with a pulled hamstring, dropped back to back passes that would have produced first downs, and wasting the possession.

Scott Crichton deflected an Osweiler pass, hard to do given he's 6'8", the tallest quarterback in college football, and then Jordan Poyer undercut a route for an interception that gave the Beavers great field position.

But after a couple of good passes for first downs, Oregon St. ran a 2 yard route on third and five, which wasn't even caught, and the Beavers had to settle for a Trevor Romaine field goal, the fourth such result in 9 red zone drives this season, and only a 3-0 lead.

The Sun Devils' second drive ended in their second turnover, as Crichton forced Osweiler to lose the ball in a pile, and Dylan Wynn jumped on it at the ASU 25.

But the Oregon St. offense failed yet again to punch the ball in for a touchdown, much to head coach Mike Riley's frustration, and had to settle for a 21 yard Romaine field goal. The Sun Devils could have been down 14-0, but instead trailed only 6-0 despite the two turnovers.

Arizona St. couldn't overcome Poyer, however, as Poyer broke up what looked like a sure touchdown toss to Aaron Pflgrad, and then snagged his second interception of the game.

A big third down conversion 19 yard pass to Marcus Wheaton had the Beavers at the Sun Devil 25 by the end of the first quarter. Mannion twice tried to force the ball into a double covered James Rodgers, once missing an open receiver for an easy touchdown. The second one got a pass interference call though, and Terron Ward scrambled in for a touchdown, below, despite fumbling the ball perilously close to the goal line. What could have been a touchback was a 13-0 Oregon St. lead.

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But no good play by the Beavers goes without a bad one, and Romaine again kicked the ball out of bounds at the 2 yard line, as he had against UCLA, setting the Sun Devils up at the 40 instead of the 20.

Arizona St. got a penalty, but Anthony Watkins still had to limp off the field as a result of an illegal block. A phantom pass interference penalty on Lance Mitchell despite his not contacting the receiver kept the drive alive, and Osweiler then found A.J. Pickens on a crossing route for the 17 yard touchdown that pulled the Sun Devils within 13-7.

Mannion rifled passes to Wheaton and Jordan Bishop to move the Beavers quickly to the Sun Devil 35, but incompletions into double coverage, a penalty, and a sack squandered the opportunity. Fortunately for the Beavers, Poyer caught Johnny Hekkar's punt to pin the Sun Devils at their own 6 yard line.

Poyer pulled off another great pass break up, and Rusty Fernando, from just down the road in Apache Junction, sacked Osweiler to force a punt. But Poyer did too much, fumbling the punt, giving Arizona St. new life. The Beavers had messed up the punt personnel package, and Poyer should have called time out.

Feti Unga appeared to have cleaned up the mess with a fumble recovery at midfield, but Cameron Marshall was bailed out by review, and an overturned ruling that he was down when the ball came out. A horsecollar tackle penalty furthered the Sun Devil drive, and Osweiler then hit a wide open Gerell Robinsion for a 24 yard touchdown, and just like that Arizona St. had surged to a 14-13.

Mannion almost got picked off, forcing the ball into bracket double coverage, and yet another too short pass play on third down resulted in another punt, which Jamal Miles promptly took back 78 yards for a touchdown, and a 21-13 lead.

Miles already had a kickoff return for a touchdown, a pass for one, and 3 catches for scores, and now has a punt return touchdown. It was also the first punt return for positive yardage this season against Oregon St.

An Obum Gwacham sighting in place of Wheaton, out temporarily with a hand injury, led to a first down in Arizona St. territory, but miscommunication between Bishop and Mannion nearly resulted in an interception. A 17 yard gain by James Rodgers got the Beavers into the red zone, but Vontaze Burfict blanketed Bishop, and Romaine hooked the field goal attempt wide left. That made Oregon St. 3 touchdowns, and 5 field goals, on 12 red zone possessions for the season.

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Osweiler found Gerell Robinson for a 48 yard completion behind Watkins, above, and then Kyle Middlebrooks for a dozen more yards, but Alex Garoutte, the Sun Devils' freshman kicker then missed wide right.

Mannion avoided getting intercepted once, but not twice, as Osahon Irador stepped in front of yet another pass forced into coverage, the 4th in a row, and 5th of 6 plays aimed at Gwacham.

But another Fernando sack shut down the Sun Devils, and Oregon St. trailed only 21-13 at the half.

"We've just given them the game, just stupid stuff," Riley said. "There's no reason we shouldn't be ahead."

Mannion was 21 of 37 passing at half time, for 227 yards, and no points, while the Beavers had only run the ball 9 times, for 46 yards. Which was still better than the Sun Devils, who had 30 rushing yards on 15 carries. Osweiler was 14 of 22 for 188 yards, but 2 touchdowns.

Unga added to his conference leading tackle count, and Arizona St. went three and punt to start the second half.

A gain of 8 on first down made for an actual easy first down for Wheaton, back with a tape job on his left wrist. But Will Sutton sacked the immobile Mannion, and a punt ensued.

Miles made an ill advised decision to bring the punt out of the endzone, but got baled out by a facemask penalty on Malcolm Marable, and the Sun Devils started on their 24 yard line instead of inside their own 10.

Watkins snagged Osweiler's third interception and got all the way to the Arizona St. 11 yard line, and a sweep to Wheaton and a toss to Rodgers pulled Oregon St. within 1 point 8:43 into the third quarter, as Riley elected not to chase the two point conversion as he had against UCLA earlier than necessary.

The mobile Miles made 18 yards on the first play of the ensuing Sun Devil drive, and Arizona St. was off and running. Marshall broke attempted tackles by half the Beavers' defense, below, in route to a 37 yard touchdown run which reopened an 8 point, 28-20 lead.

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A penalty on Colby Prince brought up third and 17, and so Oregon St. ran a 2 yard pass to Joe Halahuni, for no known reason. Fortunately for Oregon St., Hekkar's punt went for 65 yards.

Another sack by Fernando and Michael Doctor forced a Sun Devil punt, and Rodgers made his first appearance of the season as a kick returner, but had to settle for a fair catch.

Mannion missed an open Rodgers, and subsequently a holding penalty wiped out a first down catch by Wheaton, and this time Hekkar shanked the punt for only 19 yards, setting Arizona St. up at the Oregon St. 38.

Yet another facemask penalty, the 12th. penalty to that point in the game on the Beavers, and a completion to Pflugrad had the Sun Devils looking at first and goal at the 8 yard line as the third period ended.

2 plays later, Marshall banged his way in for his second score, and a two touchdown, 35-20 Arizona St. lead.

On the second play of the ensuing series, Mannion threw the ball into a crowd of 4 Sun Devils. Alden Darby won the rock-paper-scissors contest to see who got to intercept the ball.

But Arizona St. couldn't do anything with the ball, and Oregon St. took over with 12 minutes to get back into the game. Irador suffered the make-up phantom pass interference for the earlier one on Mitchell, but then the officials changed their mind, and picked up the flag.

But on third and five, Oregon St. threw a 4 yard pass to Jordan Jenkins, and the Beavers had to take a time out, with under 11 minutes left. Mannion found Halahuni for 22 yards, but then found the Sun Devils' Eddie Elder, throwing again into double coverage trying to find Wheaton, for the third interception served up on the evening by Mannion.

A fumbled snap forced a Sun Devil punt, but by then the clock had wound down at the midway point in the fourth quarter.

Mannion got nothing out of the drive other than a bone jarring hit, and Hekkar got only 33 yards out of his punt. Arizona St. went 3 and punt, though, and with 4:38 left, the Sun Devils still hadn't sealed the deal.

Mannion tried to end it with another interception, but Deveron Carr ran out of field. Another penalty followed, but Wheaton's 11 catch kept the drive alive. Bishop's 7th catch got another first down, and on third down and 5, Mannion threw a 4 yard pass to Halahuni. Bishop's 8th catch kept the drive alive, but the clock was down under 2 minutes to go.

Darby ended the suspense with his second interception of Mannion, who threw again into bracket double coverage, and Arizona St. ran the clock out.

"The first half was a disaster with turnovers for us, but I thought we played outstanding on defense, particularly in the second half," Arizona St. head coach Dennis Erickson said. "We made some plays on offense in the second half to score enough points to win, but again, two days from now we are still 4-1, and that's the bottom-line, but we definitely have some changes to make on offense."

Mannion set an Oregon St. record for both attempts, 66, and completions, 40, which broke records held by Erik Wilhelm in a 31-12 loss at Michigan in 1986. Mannion's throws netted 388 yards, but the Beavers only ran for 47 more, on just 14 carries, including a trio of sacks of Mannion. Oregon St. ran for only 1 net yard in the second half. Ward was the Beavers' leading rusher, with only 30 yards, on 5 carries.

Osweiler completed 24 of 37 passes, for 258 yards, but got 109 yards of run support, including 80 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries by Marshall.

The Beavers actually out-gained the Sun Devils from scrimmage, but Arizona St.'s kick returns tipped the total yards into their favor.

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Wheaton, above battling for the ball, finished with a game high 11 catches, for a game high 116 yards, while Bishop added 8 catches, for 64 yards. Rodgers had only 5 catches, for 32 yards, and just one carry, for 17 yards. 10 Beavers had receptions.

Robinson led Arizona St. in receiving yardage, with 68 yards and a touchdown on just 2 catches. Miles had 8 catches to lead the Sun Devils in that stat, for 62 yards.

13 penalties, including four on Mike Remmers, which cost the Beavers 139 yards, thought to be the worst such statistic in the Riley coaching era, were a game changing problem for Oregon St., who had no margin for that many errors on top of 5 turnovers.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had, ones we created with some good plays, and it came back to bite us," Riley said.

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Oregon St. coach Mike Riley found Saturday night's performance hard to believe.

"That's the hard thing, there were a lot of good things we did, especially defensively against the run," Riley added. "But we made too many mistakes, and we didn't win."

Crichton led the Beavers, with 6 solo tackles, including 3 for a loss, and both Unga and Cameron Collins had 5 tackles apiece.

Oregon St. also did a good job of insulating Burfict from the action. Burfict had no tackles, and just 2 assists, and no takeaways. Unfortunately for the Beavers, 5 Sun Devils recorded at least 5 tackles, led by Carr, with 7.

Simply put, the Beavers can not win playing one dimensional football, or error prone football on a global scale.

Oregon St. has now lost 6 games in a row, 8 of their last 9, 9 of their last 11, and 13 of their last 18. It's the Beavers' first 0-4 start in 15 years, and their first 6 game losing streak since 1997. Oregon St. hasn't lost 8 of 9 since 1996, during the Jerry Pettibone debacle.

Oregon St. (0-4, 0-2) returns home for a 12:30 kickoff game against Arizona. The Wildcats (1-4, 0-3) fell a score short in a 48-41 loss to USC in the LA Coliseum, despite Nick Foles completing 41 of 53 passes, for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Arizona St. (4-1, 2-0) next makes only their second road trip of the season, visiting Utah (2-2, 0-2) for a 1:30 MDT game. The Utes lost quarterback Jordan Wynn early in the second half with a left shoulder injury, and as a result, couldn't keep up with Washington, falling 31-14.

(Photos by Getty Images)

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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