Another opportunity squandered

Not that ASU needed extra motivation for their road game at Washington State, but as they took to the field at Martin Stadium the Sun Devils knew that following UCLA's loss earlier in the day that a win against the Cougars would see them reclaim first place in the Pac-12 South. Crucial miscues on both sides of the ball led to a crushing 37-27 loss to the Cougars.

The start of the game in Pullman, Wash. was anything but a prelude for what was about to come. Jamal Miles ran the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to put Arizona State (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) ahead, but Washington State (4-6, 2-5) quickly proved that they weren't going to be fazed much by this quick strike.

Backup quarterback Connor Halliday relieved Marshall Lobestael early in the first quarter and the rest was history, as in the most yards ever recorded by a Washington State freshman signal caller. Halliday completed 27 of 36 passes for 494 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those scores came in the first half, in the form of touchdown receptions by Marquess Wilson and the hosts took a 16-13 late in the first half.

However, all the momentum going into halftime was seemingly on the Sun Devils' side as Cameron Marshall punched it in from two yards out to give ASU a 20-16 edge to close the first stanza.

The third quarter saw both squads exchanging touchdowns and the period ended with the visitors up 27-23 and driving into the red zone. Alas, ASU failed on a 3rd and 1 conversion and elected not to kick the field goal on 4th and 1. Marshall was turned away in the conversion attempt and the Cougars took over on downs.

Taking over on their 11-yard line, Washington State found itself a couple plays later faced with a 3rd and 16 situation. The Sun Devils defense which was giving up big play after big play all night, couldn't stop the hosts from converting on that down and ultimately saw the Cougars marching down the field where Halliday found Isiah Burton for 17-yard score as Washington State grabbed a lead, 30-27, which they would not relinquish the rest of the game.

ASU kicker Alex Garoutte, who successfully made two field goals in the second quarter, missed a 22-yard attempt that could have tied the game up. Sure enough the ensuing Washington State drive produced the last touchdown of the game and halted the team's five-game losing skid.

Osweiler completed 28 of 44 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown, a 16-yard strike to Gerell Robinson but seemed to have never found a good rhythm in the passing game. The running game struggled all night, collecting just 60 yards and wasn't able to provide the balance that is so necessary for this offense.

The ASU defense surrendered 503 yards with nearly half of those yards coming via Wilson who finished with 223 yards on just eight catches with three of those receptions being touchdowns. The Sun Devils were not able to constantly harass Halliday sacking him just once and truly looked baffled by the freshman's play.

Undoubtedly, this defeat will probably have far reaching implications to the future of head coach Dennis Erickson and the quality of the 2012 recruiting class. Even though ASU still has a shot at the Pac-12 South championship, as inconceivable as that scenario may sound right now, the 2011 season will go down as a major disappointment. Saturday night in Pullman is just one more factor that will contribute to the sense of frustration the ASU football team has been feeling not only in the last couple of weeks but also the last couple of seasons.


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