Offensive Struggles Doom ASU in Oregon Loss

This afternoon in Eugene there would be no second half magic for the Sun Devils. Oregon jumped to a 21-3 lead early in the first quarter, and Arizona State's efforts the rest of the way were negated by two fourth quarter turnovers and their inability to contain the Ducks' pass rush. When the dust settled the maroon and gold suffered their first loss of the season, 35-23.

In a sign of things to come, Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) opened the game with a 1:13 scoring drive and with barely a minute and half into the game led 7-0 when Dennis Dixon connected with Jaison Williams from 26 yards out. Arizona State (8-1, 5-1) answered with field goal. The Ducks scored on their next two possessions, while the Devils' untimely penalties and lack of success avoiding sacks ( a total of nine on the afternoon)prevented them from answering the onslaught.

As the second quarter progressed ASU settled down on defense, and the offense found some success. The Devils scored on a Michael   Jones 26-yard TD pass from Rudy Carpenter, and a Thomas Weber field goal saw the visitors score 10 unanswered points. However, Weber did miss a 32-yard attempt at the end of the half, his first miss of the season, and took away from the momentum ASU was enjoying.

Down 21-13 to start the third quarter, the Sun Devils ended their first drive of this stanza again with a field goal and not a trip to the end zone. A three and out effort by the ASU defense wasn't capitalized on by the offense, and the home team went on and scored on its ensuing possession to hold a 28-16 edge. ASU failed to convert on a critical fourth down and one, and when Oregon scored on a Drew Davis 19-yard pass to put the score at 35-16, the game's fate looked to be sealed.

The Sun Devil defenders didn't yield any more points from here on out, and gave the offense many chances to mount one of its signature comebacks. Carpenter's end zone interception and a fumble by Tyrice Thompson after a 45-yad catch made it impossible for ASU to come close to recording the upset. An 11-yard TD catch by Brent Miller registered the last points of the game, as ASU missed an opportunity to extend their eight-game winning streak.

Carpenter on the day was 22 of 36 for 379 yards, two TD's and an INT. Keegan Herring rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries, and Mike Jones amassed 121 yards on just four receptions, one of them for a score. ASU had the ball for nearly 36 minutes and collected nearly 500 yards in a losing effort. Dixon completed 13-of-22 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for 57 yards for Oregon. Jonathan Stewart ran for 99 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown.

The resolve the maroon and gold have shown all season will now be put to the test. Up next for Dennis Erickson's squad is a road game at UCLA and meeting with a Bruin team that has suffered two consecutive losses. A victory can help ASU make up some of the ground they will lose in the various polls and more importantly proved skeptics that their accomplishments prior to the Oregon loss were no fluke.

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