Sun Devils Shootout Produces First Road Win

Mission Valley looked like the OK Corral for three and half hours on Saturday night. When the smoke cleared, ASU rebounded (again) from a sub par first half performance to down the San Diego State Aztecs 39-28. Just like last week, QB Andrew Walter, WR Shaun McDonald and a suffocating defense were the culprits in a remarkable second half turnaround.

What quarterback controversy? That was the question asked after the UCF win last week, and it's a guarantee that this inquiry will come up again after tonight. Walter, who was penciled as the starter for the SDSU game was demoted to second string after an injury, which severely limited him this week in practice. Tonight in San Diego, it was Déjà vu all over again, as Walter outplayed starter Chad Christensen, and was the spark plug that ignited the Devils' offense ever since he set foot on the field. His first two completions were for 105 yards and two touchdowns, both to Shaun McDonald. The sophomore finished the evening with 10-19 passing for 241 yards and four touchdowns, and was instrumental in the 25 unanswered points ASU scored in the second and third quarter. Christensen was 3-11 for 17 yards. As mentioned, Shaun McDonald was the main beneficiary of Walter's play hurling in eight catches for 175 yards and four touchdowns. Coach Koetter was disappointed in ASU's running game against UCF, and with 107 yards tonight he's unlikely to be giddy about his ground attack. However, another week, another solid performance for Cornell Canidate who once again leads all ASU rushers with 85 yards on 15 carries. Overall, the Sun Devils running game is under achieving, and isn't doing its part in providing a balanced attack.

When your defense allows only two field goals in the last 30 minutes, it's easy to forgive the total 516 yards passing by the Aztecs, let alone the 22 points scored in the first half. The ASU pass rush didn't do much to disrupt the SDSU air attack, but it did come up with key plays that shifted the momentum time after time in favor of the visitors from Tempe. Furthermore, Coach Brent Guy's squad never let the home team's running game get on track, limiting them to 58 yards. Forcing and recovering fumbles greatly aided the team to rebound in the second half. Jason Shivers led all tacklers with 11 and a forced fumble, but the defensive star may be Riccardo Stewart. The sophomore had eight tackles, two for a loss, a forced fumble, and a sack. Special teams were a huge difference maker as well. Jamar Williams' punt block was recovered by Matt Miler for a score, and Williams' fumble recovery on one of the Aztecs' punt returns was another highlight for Coach Tom Osborne's group.

San Diego State must be still scratching their heads over this loss, especially when the stat sheet indicates significant advantages in first downs (25-13) and total offense (574-365). Then again, stats such as five turnovers and six sacks tell the rest of the story. No matter whom you play and on what level, coming back from a 22-point deficit on the road to win a game, is commendable to say the least. Nonetheless, ASU cannot afford to continue the trend of digging itself out of holes in the second half. Dirk Koetter's team should enjoy their feat tonight, but ensure that they spend their bye week correcting their shortcomings for the much tougher competition looming on the horizon.

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