ASU Offense Stalls In Loss To USC

by Travis Breedlove, ASU Sports Information

ASU (7-5, 4-3) was looking to break a two game losing steak as they traveled to take on eighth ranked USC. The Trojans (8-2, 5-1) were hoping to keep alive their recent winning streak against the Sun Devils and push the all time series in their favor for the fist time ever.

The top ten team, however, overmatched the Sun Devils, with their Heisman Candidate in quarterback Carson Palmer. USC would push ASU to their third straight loss in a 34-13 USC victory.

ASU would receive the opening kickoff, but the two teams would fail to move the ball trading punts to start the game.On ASU's next possession turnovers would begin to hurt ASU as they did in their last two losses when Andrew Walter would fumble the ball and USC would recover it at the ASU 48-yard line giving the Trojans great field position.

The Trojans would convert the turnover into a touchdown as Carson Palmer would lead his team to two first downs before finding Mike Williams-USC for an 18-yard scoring strike to put USC on the board first leading 7-0.

The Devils were held in their next series as USC forced them to punt.

The two teams would then trade field goals at the end of the first quarter with USC still leading 10-3.

At the start of the second quarter Palmer would take his team 78-yards down the field for another score, this time finding Alex Holmes for a short two-yard touchdown. After the extra point USC would build on their lead to 17-3.

The Trojans defense would again hold the Maroon and Gold offense in check forcing another Tim Parker punt.

Palmer would again show his senior leadership, helping push back the ASU defense on an eleven-play drive lasting just under six minutes. The Trojans would have to settle for a field goal though as kicker Ryan Killeen would hit a 41-yard field goal to cap the drive giving USC a commanding 20-3 lead with just over three minutes remain in the first half.

After trading punts again ASU would make their own march down the field 80-yards in nine plays as Andrew Walter found Shaun McDonald for a 24-yard touchdown bringing ASU a little closer. A 20-10 halftime score favored the team from Troy.

USC would start the second half, but on their first possession of the half could not get further than the Devil's 41-yard line before being forced to punt.

The Sun Devils would take back possession at their own19-yard line and drive to the Trojan 27-yard line. Within striking distance the Devils would see Andrew Walter's pass intercepted in the end zone by USC defender DeShaun Hill stopping the ASU scoring threat.

Yet, USC was unable to capitalize on the turnover, as the two teams would trade punts again before another ASU score.On Arizona State's following possession, Andrew Walter would help set up a 27-yard Mike Barth field goal by finding Justin Taplin for a 22-yard reception and getting a crucial roughing the passer call against USC for 13 more yards. The score would still be in USC's favor 20-13, but ASU was within one touchdown as the third quarter came to an end.

Carson Palmer would again lead USC down the field finding Justin Fargas for 33-yards followed up by a Keary Colbert 31-yard reception to the ASU 7-yard line. Two plays later Fargas would punch it in from three yards out giving USC a 27-13 lead.

The Sun Devils would not give up though as Josh Golden would return the ensuing kickoff 42-yards to the ASU 42-yard line to start their next offensive drive.

Walter would find tight end Mike Pinkard for a 22-yard gain, but the offense would be stuck there as they moved back on a Mike Williams one-yard loss and a sack of Walter for seven yards. Walter would find McDonald for a 15-yard gain setting up a fourth and one. Trailing 27-13 in the game the Sun Devils had to go for it on fourth down, but the Trojan defense would not budge as they stopped Mike Williams from getting the first down and USC would take over at their own 27-yard line all but sealing the Sun Devils loss.

USC would add a late Palmer 2-yard rush to make the final score 34-13 in favor of the Trojans.

GAME NOTES: Junior defensive end Terrell Suggs recorded a half sack putting him one sack away from tying Shante Carver's career sacks record of 41 (1990-93)...Junior receiver Shaun McDonald's second quarter touchdown catch puts him one touchdown away from tying the ASU career touchdowns record (25) and the single-season touchdown record (14)...Senior kicker Tim Parker had the sixth-longest punt in ASU history with his 75-yarder in the first quarter...Sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter set single-season records for attempts with his 391, breaking Jake Plummer's record of 348 set in 1996, and in single-season completions with 221 surpassing the previous mark of 199 set in 1983 by Todd Hons...Senior kicker Mike Barth added to his consecutive point-after makes increasing his season total to 42 straight and dating back to last year making 68 straight (last miss coming against La-Lafayette).

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