Devils Lose OT Shocker to Rebels

Trap game or just a bad game? Following ASU's 23-30 overtime home loss to UNLV, a week before the much anticipated game against Georgia that debate is guaranteed to rage on among the Sun Devil nation. The UNLV win was another blemish in what was a horrible day for the Pac-10, and the dismay over this loss is likely to linger a little longer than other losses that came before this one.

"We didn't play very good, for whatever reason." said Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "Anytime that happens that starts with me. I thought we were better prepared than we were. We didn't take advantage of things early and we kept them in the game."

"We had some opportunities in the third and fourth quarter to keep the football, move the football and didn't do it. They got the ball back and they ran the football really well against us, which is credit to them. Anytime you get into overtime anything can happen, and you saw what happen."

An Omar Clayton ball was tipped a couple of times before it fell into the hands of Ryan Wolfe to put UNLV (2-1) on the 2-yard line in their first possession of the extra frame. A 20-yard field goal by Kyle Watson scored what eventually would be the game winning field goal. Arizona State (2-1) ran the ball twice on their first possession, and was forced to throw on 3rd down. The incomplete pass by Rudy Carpenter forced a 35-yard field goal by Thomas Weber that was blocked.

"Obviously UNLV, we have to give all the credit to them," said Carpenter. "They played a great a game and that's the reason we lost. We practiced fine, we just didn't execute in the game…we didn't do well in all three aspects of the game and when you don't you're gonna lose."

Much like last week's game against Stanford, the Sun Devils drove deep into their opponent's territory only to come away with just a field goal (20 yards by Weber). The defense pitched a shutout in the first quarter, but in its second possession of this period Carpenter was sacked twice in the same drive which denied ASU the opportunity to pad its lead.

In the second quarter, following the Rebels' game tying field goal, Carpenter found Chris McGaha from 22 yards out for a score. The defense turned away the visitors once again, which was negated by Carpenter's lone interception of the game (returned to ASU's 7-yard mark), which led to UNLV's first touchdown of the night. Weber, after being ‘iced' twice by UNLV timeouts nailed a 49-yard attempt to give the hosts a 13-10 edge and some momentum going into the locker room.

In the opening minutes of the second stanza is certainly seemed as if ASU made the necessary adjustments for improvement. Defense forced a three-and-out and Carpenter found Kyle Williams down field for a 49-yard score and a 20-10 lead at the 10:37 mark of the third quarter.

Who would have thought that this would be the Devils' last points on the night…?

The fourth quarter for the hosts was a downright nightmare. UNLV outscored ASU 10-0 on two long drives of 87 and 74 yards respectively which consumed 11:51 minutes in time of possession. Carpenter threw the ball twice in this period (seven times total in the second half) and the Devils' running game in the fourth wasn't enough to keep the ball out of UNLV's hands, let alone add to its lead.

Philip Payne's one handed grab in the end zone (which brought memories of ASU tight end Todd Heap) was shocking both in execution value, as well as in its meaning – that UNLV was going to force time on the heavily favorite Sun Devils.

"No disrespect to them, they're not on our level," safety Troy Nolan stated. "They won the game and I give all the credit, but we let them hang around in the game and look what happened – they beat us."

Will the Sun Devils suffer a hangover as a result of this loss?

"I will say this," Carpenter stated. "I know the character of this game is real good. I know we got great leadership. I know we're gonna pick it up this week in practice and all this aggression and anger that we have, we're gonna put towards practice and hopefully come out and play a great game next week."


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