Devils suffer ‘gut-wrenching' road loss

PASADENA, Calif. - In a game with major Pac-12 South implications ASU was unable to come up with the big plays needed at the end of the game in its 29-28 loss to UCLA in Pasadena Saturday night.

With a chance to control its own destiny in getting to the Pac-12 title game ASU missed three field goals, the last of which would've won the game, shifting the control over to UCLA with two conference games remaining. "Just a gut-wrenching loss for this football team," coach Dennis Erickson said. "You've got to give UCLA credit. We had so many opportunities in that football game in the second half to either put it away or win it. We get two turnovers, we don't get any points, punt it once and miss a short field goal and that's when we were up and we had a chance to put them in a tough situation because of what they do offensively.

"We had them 3rd and 29; it was just a gut-wrenching loss for our players. They played hard and we just made too many mistakes in the second half that ended up costing us. I knew this was going to be a difficult game coming in here and we had to play better than we did and I think if you look at it, in games like this there are so many different things that happened that could've made a difference in the game."

The Sun Devils started off in a hole as UCLA went up 6-0 just under four minutes into the game on an 11-yard run by Johna Franklin, but rebounded well on the next drive as A.J. Pickens took a Brock Osweiler pass 35 yards to the end zone, out running the Bruins' defense. Osweiler ended the day with 264 yards and two touchdowns, but looked lost at times against UCLA's tough pass defense.

Cameron Marshall added a touchdown to widen ASU's lead 14-6, but a field goal and touchdown for UCLA had the Bruins back up 16-14. Marshall rushed for a career high 168 yards on the day and took the Pac-12 lead in touchdowns with his 13th of the year.

Garoutte had a chance in the second quarter to put the Sun Devils up by one when he was short on a 48-yard attempt, the first of his three misses on the day.

The second half didn't start off much better for the Sun Devils as Kevin Prince connected on a 76-yard pass to Nelson Rosario on the second play of the drive, putting UCLA up 23-14. The pass was the longest completion for the Bruins since Ben Olson hooked up with Joe Cowan in 2007 against Stanford.

ASU was able to regain the lead in the fourth quarter on Osweiler's one-yard run, running the score to 28-23 with 7:48 remaining. At that point it seemed as if ASU was going to escape the Rose Bowl with a win.

After causing a fumble on the kickoff return the game seemed all but won as the Sun Devils had the ball in UCLA territory with a five-point lead and less than eight minutes remaining.

A few conservative plays later set up Garoutte with a 36-yard attempt to put the team up eight and essentially end the game, unfortunately for the Sun Devils his attempt went wide left, giving UCLA hope for a comeback.

A 41-yard run by Derrick Coleman put UCLA in position to do some damage, but a sack and an offensive pass interference call left UCLA in a 3rd down and 29, needing what seemed like a miracle to stay in the game. While it may not have been a miracle, Rosario was able to beat cornerback Alden Darby for a 33-yard gain and a first down at the ASU 6.

A couple plays later Coleman ran it in from a yard out to give UCLA the lead, but not before precious seconds ticked off the clock while Erickson tried to get the officials attention for a timeout.

"It was basically my fault," Erickson said of losing time. "We lost ten seconds, I tried to call timeout and the officials were at the other end, so I finally got their attention and it cost us ten to fifteen seconds. The first down they got on 3rd and 28 kind of dumbfounded us a little bit, but then we actually used those timeouts to put us in decent shape to have a chance to win the game."

The following 42 seconds of game time were as confusing as any you'll ever see in a game.

There was a 20-yard completion to Gerell Robinson, who then purposely fumbled forward in an attempt to gain a few extra yards. Fortunately for him and ASU he was ruled down before losing the ball, saving ASU a timeout and the penalty yardage.

A pass interference call on UCLA and a 12-yard completion to Mike Willie set up Garoutte with a 46-yard attempt and four seconds on the clock, and most importantly, a chance to redeem himself and give his team a win.

Garoutte's kick was well short, and UCLA rushed the field in victory. That's the kind of year it's been for Garoutte, as he'll no doubt have to take his lumps from fans, media, and probably some of his teammates who were visibly disturbed after this one.

"It's like any kicker, they have their days," Erickson said of Garoutte. "The two ones that were 48, 49, those are hard kicks, there's no question about that, and he just didn't hit either of those two. The one that hurt us was the 37 when he pulled it and that would've put us up by eight. He's our kicker, he's just got to continue to work and continue to get better."

ASU will now need UCLA to lose one of its final two against either USC or Utah, as well as win in the final two against Washington State and U of A to get into the Pac-12 title game, but looking ahead will be tough after an emotional loss like this.

"You always have concerns about that," Erickson said of rebounding emotionally. That's a hard loss; they don't get any harder than losses like that. Unfortunately I've been in a few of them.

"This football team has a lot of seniors, it's a team that's battled and we'll deal with this loss tomorrow and then we've got to get ready to play Washington State. That's all we can do, we can't control our own destiny now, but we can have a good year and you never know what can happen down the road."

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