Beavers Edge Devils for Sixth Straight Loss

Missed opportunities have naturally plagued ASU during their current skid, and that familiar trend continued on Saturday night in a 27-25 loss to Oregon State. Trips to the red zone culminated in field goals rather than touchdowns, and a defense which limited the hosts to one touchdown in the first half yielded 20 points in the second half, all leading to ASU's worst losing streak since 1929.

Arizona State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-10) started tonight's contest in Corvallis in the same manner as the last four games. The offense sputtered, while the defense gave up an early score. On its first possession Oregon State (5-3, 4-1) started the drive at the Sun Devils' 30-yard line and concluded with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lyle Moevao to Shane Morales to put the hosts up 7-0.

In its ensuing possession the visitors scored on a Thomas Weber 27-yard field goal, after ASU already had a 1st and 10 on OSU's 12-yard line.

The Sun Devil defense clamped down on the Beavers and shut them out for the rest of the half. However, the ASU offense was able to muster just another Weber field goal, from 34 yards out. Furthermore, Weber's miss from 44-yards out had ASU trailing 7-6 at the half and that mishap proved to be the difference in the game.

The second half couldn't have started out better for the maroon and gold. Sean Canfield, who replaced the injured Moevao, threw an interception to Troy Nolan who returned it 41 yards for ASU's first lead on the night, 13-7. This was the first lead ASU has held since they prevailed over Stanford on September 6th.

Alas, during the touchdown celebration Jonathan English threw the ball into the stands, and the excessive celebration penalty resulted in a kickoff pushed 15 yards back and the Beavers starting the drive on their own 40-yard line. Minutes later Morales scores again to give Oregon State a 14-13 advantage.

ASU answered with a 44-yard field goal, albeit during another drive which saw them march into their opponent's 20-yard line.

Oregon State bounced right back to score on a 45-yard field goal for a 17-16 advantage and a lead they would never relinquish.

The Beavers opened the fourth quarter with an 11-yard touchdown catch by Sammie Stroughter, and after both teams traded field goals Oregon State had a 27-19 lead with just under two minutes left in the game.

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter engineered ASU's only touchdown drive of the game, 11 plays and 72 yards, and found Andrew Pettes in the end zone from three yards out. Forced to go for two in hopes of tying the score, Carpenter threw an interception and when Weber's onside kickoff was recovered by the Beavers the game's fate was sealed.

After competing seven of his first eight passes, Carpenter finished the night with a 15-27 performance, tallying 217 yards. The senior was also sacked five times. Shaun DeWitty started his first game this season (and his first start since 2006) and racked up 110 yards on just 16 carries. Kerry Taylor paced the ASU receivers with six catches and 81 yards. ASU had ten penalties for 80 yards and five of those infractions were false starts.

All Arizona State can hope for now is a 6-6 record, but it will have to run the table to do so. Their first game in what seems an improbable mission pits the maroon and gold on the road against the winless Washington Huskies this Saturday.

On paper it's the proverbial winnable game. Nonetheless, guaranteeing a victory to a team in the midst of a six-game losing streak is a proposition that even the more optimistic fans of the Sun Devil nation may have a hard time seeing come to fruition.

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