Devils Defense Dominates in 27-14 Win Over Beavers

To say that the ASU defense has improved from last year would be a gross understatement. On a night where the offense possibly played their worst game in the young 2004 season, the Devil defenders came to the rescue. Forcing five turnovers, collecting four sacks, and holding Oregon State to –19 net yards rushing are the main reasons why ASU started Pac-10 play with a victory.

For the first time this year, the Sun Devils (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) surrendered points in the first quarter, when the potent connection of Derek Anderson to Mike Hass produced a 34-yard score to put the Beavers (1-3, 0-1) ahead. That period saw another first, as in ASU's inaugural rushing score of the year. Hakim Hill's 3-yard run in the waning moments of the first quarter tied the game at 7-7. Emmanuel Franklin saved a touchdown as he striped the ball from the Beavers' Joe Newton, and recovered the pigskin in the end zone. After having a 20-yard field goal blocked in the first quarter, Sun Devil kicker Jesse Ainsworth made good from 33 yards with 2:01 left in the half.

An Anderson fumble on the next Oregon State possession was recovered by ASU's Jordan Hill on the visitors' 12-yard line. On the Devils' first play following the turnover, Terry Richardson ran a reverse and thanks to a block by Andrew Walter the trick play converted into a touchdown and marked the final score of the half: 17-7 in favor of the maroon and gold.

On its first possession of the third quarter, ASU scored on Walter's only touchdown pass of the game – a 17-yard strike to Zach Miller. That drive featured a pass interference and an ill-advised unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by the visitors. Ainsworth added a 45 yarder with 7:06 remaining in the contest to put the maroon and gold ahead 27-7. The Beavers scored on a Dwight Wright 1-yard run at the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter, but that proved to be too little too late as the ASU defense ensured a 4-0 record, a mark that hasn't been seen since the Rose Bowl season of 1996.

Walter completed 16 of out 40 passes for 124 yards – his lowest yard total in a non-injury game since last year's contest at Iowa. His rare 16-yard scamper set up his team's first score. Overall, the offensive line turned in another fine performance giving up no sacks, and aided in the 125 yards rushing gained by the team. Hakim Hill led all rushers with 50 yards on 17 carries. Derek Hagan failed to score a touchdown or eclipse the century mark in receiving for the first time in six games. The junior finished with 66 yards on seven catches.

Linebacker Justin Burks led the team with 13 total tackles. Defensive backs Franklin and Josh Golden had eight tackles each. Along with his crucial forced and recovered fumble, Franklin also had a team leading two pass breakups. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill had 1.5 tackles for loss, as well as a pair of recovered fumbles. Linebacker Jamar Williams had two interceptions, and is the surprising team leader in that department with three picks on the season.

Ainsworth made good on two of his three field goals. Punter Chris MacDonald has his best game in his short ASU career, averaging 47.5 yards a punt, with a long punt of 61 (albeit a punt that was booted into the end zone). Rudy Burgess returned five punts for 41 yards, while Golden returned two kickoffs for 38 yards.

You can call Saturday's game a let down after a big Iowa win, or if you choose you can conclude that ASU simply faced its toughest opponent thus far in 2004. Whatever the case may be, the end result is a 1-0 mark in conference play, a position that many teams in Pac-10 would love to be in. The road doesn't get any easier for the Sun Devils as they face Oregon in Eugene this Saturday. The Ducks will have revenge on their minds after two consecutive and bitter losses at the hands of Dirk Koetter's team. Nevertheless, an improved showing on offense along with a sustained effort on defense and special teams should help ASU gain its second conference victory.

Sparky's Sundries Offensive Lineman Zach Krula started for the first time in his career, due to an injury to Chaz White. White did come back to play later on, but Krula started at right guard while Grayling Love shifted to left tackle…Hagan and Jamar Williams were the captains for this game…this win was costly as running back Randy Hill tore his ACL and is out for the year…even the most avid Oregon State supporter cannot discount the impact that 103 yards in penalties had on the game. Six of those penalties resulted in first downs for ASU…the "Beavers eat wood – Devils eat Beavers" banner lasted longer than the "Shave the Beavers" one. Some innuendoes are just stronger than others for the stadium's security…

Sun Devil Source Top Stories