Win brings redemption for Sullivan

If there is one word that best describes ASU's 24-17 victory over Washington, it has to be resiliency. Many were skeptical of Danny Sullivan, who was coming off a three interception performance last week. Nonetheless, the senior who was heavily booed in his team's last home game proved to be the hero with a 50-yard touchdown pass to capture the win.

"I've been waiting for a game like this, especially with the last time I played in this stadium," Sullivan admitted. "It wasn't too fun, and my frustration showed after that game, but it's a complete 180 right now, that's for sure."

The Sun Devils once again started out slow, giving up a 49-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aguilar early in the first quarter, but maintained composure against a tough Washington team that beat USC earlier this season.

The Sun Devils responded with Sullivan's QB sneak at the one-yard line to tie it up, and gave fans reason to believe that this offense can actually score when they need to.

Kyle Williams and T.J. Simpson hooked up for what at the time was the play of the year for the Sun Devils and Williams received the ball on a reverse and threw it to Simpson who made an amazing catch in the end zone to give the Devils a 14-7 lead.

That score remained for the rest of the half and deep into the third quarter when Thomas Weber tacked on 3 more points with a field goal before Husky running back Chris Polk spun off of Vontaze Burfict, who had 3 different personal fouls on the day, and raced into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown run.

Washington then tied the score at 17 with a field goal with 3:50 left in the game, and then the madness ensued.

The Sun Devils moved into Husky territory, but stalled out like many drives do for the offense. After the punt, ASU needed a big stop from their defense and got it. Washington went three-and-out and was forced to punt to Kyle Williams who returned the ball to the 50-yard line with :13 left to play, setting up the play of the year for the Sun Devils.

Chris McGaha was sidelined all week with the flu, but started the game for the Sun Devils. He played sparingly and no catches going into the Sun Devils final play.

Many expected the Devils to just run the ball and play for OT, but Coach Erickson had other plans for his team.

Sullivan dropped back facing only a three-man rush, stepped up into the pocket and delivered a 50-yard bomb to the ill McGaha who caught it in the end zone with nobody within 15 yards of him for the score with :05 remaining in the game.

Sun Devil Stadium erupted as the crowd 53,219 all cheered for the once disowned quarterback.

"We had the play called where we're just trying to get something about 18 or 20 yards so we could have a chance for Thomas to kick a field goal," Sullivan said. "We had the inside guy going to the opposite hash and their safety went with him and I had to look down the field and see the white man over here running wide open. I just told myself ‘do not overthrow,' and it was a perfect throw and he made the catch."

After the game, Sullivan was greeted with chants of "Danny! Danny!" as he left the field and admits it was a nice feeling.

"With all the rough times I've had this year with people saying I can't do it, and people saying ‘he's never gonna make big plays,' well there's one for you that won a game," Sullivan pointed out. "All the guys on the sideline were just supporting me and just saying ‘we got your back, don't even worry, just keep doing what you're doing, you're doing fine,' so that meant a lot to me."

Sullivan has had forgettable last couple games, and was even booed by his home fans against Oregon State. There were many things that needed to be fixed, but Sullivan took it upon himself to change the way he played.

"I think my last three games where I haven't played the way I wanted to play kinda fired me up," Sullivan declared. "I just told myself to be loose and throw. I haven't done that, just trying to think too much. That first half I don't think I missed too many throws, and I was hitting guys on a line, and I need to have that mentality every game now because I was having so much fun out there."

When asked where the final play ranked on his all-time list, there was no question.

"Number one by far," Sullivan said with a smile. "I haven't had too many opportunities to make a play like that. That's number one, number two, number three, and number four.

"I couldn't believe it. I saw the safety in the middle and I was getting ready to go ‘OK well I just key him,' and he just jumped the first guy, so I was like, ‘where's Chris? Oh my god, he's that wide open.' And that's when I was telling myself that if you overthrow this Coach Olsen is going to get mad and you're going to get mad at yourself. It was a great play."

Sullivan played well completing 21 of 35 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown, but the man on the other side of the game winning play had a much different game.

"I was in my bed all week, and I didn't think they were gonna play me because I didn't play at all in the first half," McGaha mentioned. "I had the starting play and that was it. It was a run play and I missed a block so they weren't too happy with me, so I didn't play the rest of the half, and then I got some opportunities in the second half.

"I'm still actually kind of sick. I didn't play very much. I only had one catch. I definitely capitalized on my opportunities."

For the time being the Devils and Danny Sullivan are riding high, and Sullivan is hoping to have the same feeling next home game against Cal.

"It was awesome," Sullivan said of the cheers. "I hope it happens in two weeks."


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