It was a tale of two halves. No other way to put it. But when the final gun sounded, Arizona State beat Washington 27-17 on Homecoming at Sun Devil Stadium.
Arizona State (5-5, 3-4) was asleep at the switch for the first 30 minutes, trailing 17-3 at halftime as the Sun Devils left the field to a smattering of boos. Dropped balls, blown coverages, and poor decisions were all a common theme. However, in the second half the Sun Devils scored 24 unanswered points on the way to the victory.
Antonio Longino was a wrecking ball for Arizona State. Playing with a hamstring injury suffered last week, Longino finished the game with seven tackles, including four for loss.
“This is my last two or three games here,” Longino said afterwards. “So I’m not going to pass them up. I’m going to give what I got.”
Kalen Ballage had one of the better touchdown runs this season for ASU, breaking tackles down the near side on his 48-yard dash to cap the Devils’ comeback bid and send the Huskies (4-5, 2-4) back to the Pacific northwest asking themselves what could have been.
“Really, I was just telling the offensive line make a crease, make a hole,” Ballage explained. “I’m going to hit it as hard as I can. We came out in the second half and we were very physical.”
Arizona State’s defense led by Longino and James Johnson (five tackles, pass break up, forced fumble) were the leaders late in the game. Sure, ASU gave up lots of big plays in the first half, but in the second half it was a complete team victory. The defense in the second half held Washington to just ten yards rushing.
With the win, the Sun Devils now can turn the page and look forward to the Territorial Cup showdown with Arizona next Saturday in Tempe. This was as good a victory for Graham as he’s had this season (including the UCLA game). I can say that because the Sun Devils had every reason to quit on the coaching staff and even themselves in the first half. There was a play in the second quarter where senior center Nick Kelly snapped a ball to senior quarterback Mike Bercovici who wasn’t even expecting the ball. They were THAT bad.