Heartbreak between the hedges

ATHENS, Ga. - Despite being down 14-3 at the half, the Sun Devils knew that their chances to come back and avenge last year's loss to Georgia were greater than the scoreboard displayed. Consequently, the Sun Devils behind a stellar defensive effort had a 17-14 lead going into the fourth quarter. Alas, a missed field goal by ASU and a last second one made by the hosts gave Georgia a 20-17 win.

"It's just heartbreaking," said Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "To come this far, play like we did and not win a football game…I think about all the games I coached at Arizona State, even the big losses – this is the hardest one to take."

"When you're playing a really good football team it comes down to making plays at the end of games. They made a play and we didn't."

Undoubtedly, the last period was full of missed opportunities for Arizona State (2-1).

The Sun Devil defense stopped a 4th and 1 attempt by Georgia (3-1, 2-0 SEC), but the offense went three and out in the subsequent possession Bulldog signal caller Joe Cox's pass was intercepted by Jarrell Holman that same quarter and returned down the host's 20-yard line.

With less than five minutes left, The Sun Devils missed a 37-yard field goal, when backup kicker Bobby Wenzig's attempt was too low and blocked by A.J. Green.

Green wasn't done there as the wide receiver caught a key 36-yard pass on a third down play, setting up teammate Blair Walsh for the winning 37 yarder as time expired.

The Georgia sophomore finished with 153 yards on eight catches and opened up the scoring in the game with a 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Wenzig answered with a 43-yad field goal to cut down the lead to 7-3. Alas, the Bulldogs came back with what ultimately be their last touchdown of a game, a two-yard scamper by Fred Munzenmaier.

Heavy rain in the first half seemed to affect ASU quarterback Danny Sullivan who was 4-14 for 69 yards in that period. The senior finished the night 10-32 for 116 yards with an interception and a six-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Nance in the third quarter.

"We should have won this game," said a disappointed Sullivan. "I didn't play my best game and that's the worst part about it. I feel so bad for this team because the defense played so well."

"We take some positives out of (the game), but we didn't make the play that we needed to. It's as simple as that. Sometimes when I was out there, ball was sailing on me early in the wet conditions. I finally got in a rhythm in that 3rd quarter, but when it wasn't there I tried to throw it away. Things weren't really clicking for us until the third quarter."

Nance who had a solid outing in the win over Louisiana-Monroe last week, followed up his effort collecting 92 yards on 25 carries, as well as 47 yards on four receptions. His score tonight was his first career receiving touchdown.

"The O-Line, they were blocking great today," Nance acknowledged. "I just followed them. There were some big holes out there. I just played my heart out on the field. I just wanted to come out with the same attitude I had last week.

"The more I get the ball the more I can read the defense and see how they are playing. So I think that helps out a lot."

The second half showcased a stout Sun Devils defense, who not only prevented the hosts from scoring a touchdown in the second half, but also saw Holman collect two interceptions, one of them returned 47 yards for a score.

"We let them come out too early to score two touchdowns at the beginning of the game," Holman noted. "The second half we came out pretty good and we just gave up the big play when we needed a stop.

Holman by his admission had a rough time stopping the Bulldog receivers at times, but true to the proverbial defensive back mantra, he didn't harp on his shortcomings in the game.

"As a DB you're taught to have a short memory," Holman explained. "I missed a tackle on one of the touchdowns - that was a big play. My (touchdown) was a big play. I always tell myself that my next play will be my best play. So with that, I forget my last play. If it's bad, if it's good, I have to do better."

"We did what we had to do," said linebacker Brandon Magee concerning the second half defensive effort. "We're proud, but we're going to keep get better than that. We just got started; giving you guys a little show tonight. Watch, we're going to come up every game.

"This was a big test for us. Now we see where we are at and where we have to go. We're going to get there this season. This is going to be a big season."

"We felt we could win," Erickson stated. "That's why we came. We came out and played well. The biggest thing we have to do is to learn from this. We have a lot of games left, starting with the Pac-10 schedule next week and Oregon State.

"If we can get better from this game going into the league, then it was a positive. That's the bottom line."


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