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ASU-Cal recap

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When the Arizona State Sun Devils went to Berkeley to face off with the California Golden Bears, ASU was a two-point favorite according to Sunset Station. They went into Memorial Stadium and proved themselves the superior team. Throughout the game, the Sun Devils were in control, never trailing, and winning the fight for total yardage 410-286. Facing a first-string quarterback for the first time since the season opener against NAU, ASU flustered California’s Senior QB Zach Maynard, holding him to a line of 9-28 for 126 yards.

ASU really came to life early in the second quarter. Following a first quarter where redshirt sophomore QB Taylor Kelly hit Darwin Rogers with a touchdown pass for Rogers’ first career reception, in the second quarter they put up 10 points, albeit in a somewhat unorthodox way. The first three were courtesy of a drive that started at their own 37, driving to Cal’s 27, giving the ball to redshirt freshman QB Michael Eubank, and then having to settle for a field goal from the 11 yard line.

After forcing a quick three and out, ASU got the ball back on a punt, which had a penalty on California for questionably infringing on Jamal Miles’ right to a fair catch. On the very next play, California was flagged for a facemask penalty, meaning that the Sun Devils received 30 free yards on one drive courtesy of the Golden Bears. But ASU was then forced to punt from the California 37 yard line; they squandered a perfect scoring opportunity.

Then, ASU was given a gift. California fumbled on the second play of their drive, giving the Sun Devils the ball back at the 37, exactly where they had it the drive prior. They were given a second chance at points, and this time did not disappoint. On two consecutive 3rd-down plays, Kelly converted passes to Junior TE Chris Coyle to extend the drive, showing their connection was alive and well.

Kelly, on a 3rd-and-goal situation, dropped back, stayed in the pocket, then unleashed what may have been the hardest pass he has thrown all season: a nine yard rocket into triple coverage to junior WR Kevin Ozier for six points. The pass not only eluded three defenders, but hit Ozier just under the chin for an absolutely perfect pass.

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but junior DT Will Sutton had himself quite the game. With 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks, this man does what he wants with his opposition.  And even when he does not record a tackle, he’s in Maynard’s face. On the opening drive of the third quarter, California was facing a third down. Maynard was in the shotgun and was looking to pass. Sutton ran over the offensive lineman, and pressured Maynard to throw the ball away. California was forced to punt.

The entire defense had another superb game, constantly making their presence felt in the California backfield, finishing with 6 sacks and improving on their nation-leading 39 tackles for loss, adding 14 more today.

Taylor Kelly had another great day under center, finishing 26-45 for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he was not California’s worst enemy. California was their own worst enemy.  The Golden Bears were flagged for 12 penalties for 119 yards, and lost a fumble. Having given ASU that many opportunities, it really comes as no surprise that the Sun Devils were able to improve on their Pac-12 South leading 4-1 record, 2-0 in conference, and come away with a 27-17 win.

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