Missed opportunities costly for ASU

LOS ANGELES - Another week, another disheartening loss has ASU head coach Dennis Erickson and his players talking about a disappointing game, as they are edged 34-33 by USC.

"About as crazy as they get," Erickson said of the game. "It was a back and forth, see-saw football game. A play here, a play there, you can think of a thousand things in a game like that that made a difference when it gets down to that point. Obviously the key play today was the blocked extra point for two points, that's a three point turnaround right there. That was the difference in the football game. To let that happen is totally ridiculous."

Late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Steven Threet lead the offense into the end zone and scored with 6:59 left to play. With a score of 33-29 kicker Thomas Weber stepped up for the extra point attempt but it was blocked and returned for 2-points by USC's Torin Harris.

"I thought about going for two," Erickson commented. "And then I was talked into going for one. It obviously wouldn't have been blocked if we went for two, but who knows what would've happened."

With several heartbreaking losses this season, the maroon and gold have been unable to defeat with high-caliber opponents. Although the Sun Devils haven't been able to find the success they desire, the unit has proven that the maroon and gold have no intentions of giving up on their season.

"We have resiliency, we've had resiliency all year," Erickson stated. "Our resiliency is really going to be tested next week. Coming back after a game like this is…those are hard.

"We had a chance to win it and didn't make the plays, but our guys fought back and we had an opportunity to win it at the end of the game and didn't make the kick. They made some plays. USC played good; I thought USC ran the football pretty well."

Weber, who has been quite largely throughout the season, was relied on heavily during tonight's matchup to fulfill the duties of both punter and place kicker as Trevor Hankins was suspended for violating a team rule. Although Weber's point after would have given ASU the lead, his missed field goal late in the fourth quarter was not the sole reason for the maroon and gold's loss.

"I'll talk to him when I get back into the locker room," Erickson said of Weber. "He missed it, that happens."

The Sun Devil offense began the contest with an immediate touchdown, taking the lead. With several opportunities to score throughout the first half, the maroon and gold were unable to execute putting six times in the first 30 minutes, allowing the Trojans to end the half with a 14-7 lead.

"It's disappointing," quarterback Steven Threet said. "It's also disappointing in the first half I played. A game never comes down to one play, it may seem like it but it never comes down to one play. We had a ton of opportunities when we were up 7-0 in the first half to increase the lead because the defense was holding them but the offense couldn't get it going."

The offense found most of their success in the second half, but was also assisted by cornerback Omar Bolden when he intercepted USC quarterback Matt Barkley and returned it for a touchdown, as well as fellow corner LeQuan Lewis who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score.

"It was exciting," Threet commented. "The special teams came out and the kickoff return did a great job and LeQuan made a play. Omar was able to get the pick-6 and that was huge. We really just felt the momentum building and the offense was able to get the ball and get some points on the board to keep the defense off the field.

"I felt bad for the defense because we went three and out so many times in the first half that they must have been tired."

Threet completed 24 of 40 for 228 yards for three touchdowns and two interceptions. Despite the offense's ineptitude in the first half the junior quarterback played better in the second half throwing for two touchdowns and setting up the aforementioned filed goal attempt late in the fourth quarter.

"I think the offense did a great job running the ball in the first half," Threet commented. "I just wasn't completing passes and that's why drives were stalling. We were able to come out in the second half and be consistent and execute the offense efficiently to put points on the board."

Threet noted that the speed of the offense was key in the second half and allowed for the success of the offense.

"USC's d-line is very talented, and they play hard," Threet said. "I think our tempo really got to them in the second half, we were able to get up and snap the ball quickly so that helped us a lot."

Linebacker, Brandon Magee played every defensive snap during tonight's matchup and although the maroon and gold struggled offensively at times, the defense was executing their game plan to maintain the Trojans.

"I feel that we gave our best efforts every snap," Magee said. "I think we really fought out there. We really gave it all out there, the defense. If we keep playing like that we can go places.

"I thought we executed our game plan pretty well. We made some mistakes here and there but its football, everybody makes mistakes but other than that, we executed very well."

Racking up another Pac-10 loss to the Trojans, the maroon and gold are now 4-5 for the season. The maroon and gold will probably need to win the rest of their contests in order to become bowl eligible.

"It's very disappointing," Threet said. "The way the game turned out, it's tough. We're sitting at 4-5 and we have three games left to try to make it happen.

"I think we have to keep working hard like we have been in practice. We keep coming out and playing hard. All you can do is give 110% in preparation and on game day and we'll see how it goes.

"I'm excited to get back on the field on Saturday, I wish we could play (ASU's next opponent Stanford) right now."


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