ASU Turnovers Hand Oregon State 45-17 Win
Sept 28, 2003
By Nate Policar
ASU Sports Information
The 24th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1) took to the field in Reser Stadium looking to rebound from their loss the previous week in Iowa in which they failed to score a point offensively. Also on the line in the Pac-10 opener for both teams was ASU's seven-game winning streak in the series against the Oregon State Beavers (4-1, 1-0).
The game developed into a battle of the backs as running backs Steven Jackson of OSU and Hakim Hill of ASU each eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the game. Despite the improvement in their offensive game, the Sun Devils were unable to overcome two fumbles and four interceptions, as Oregon State ran away with a 45-17 victory in Corvallis.
Starting with the ball, junior quarterback Andrew Walter led the Sun Devils onto the field. Things did not go exactly as planned for Walter when Brandon Browner of Oregon State picked off his first pass of the day on the ASU 46-yard line. With the ball in Arizona State territory, the Beavers seemed poised to build an early lead, driving to the ASU seven-yard line. Junior safety Riccardo Stewart had different plans for the Beavers, though, as he stepped in front of a pass from OSU quarterback Derek Anderson and regained possession of the ball for the Sun Devils.
Looking for the first points of the game, the Sun Devils mounted a new drive. Yet ASU committed its second turnover when a snap sailed over Walter's head and was recovered by OSU's Dwan Edwards on the ASU 31-yard line. This time the Beavers would not be denied. OSU quarterback Derek Anderson found the end zone on a six-yard scramble, giving the Beavers an early 7-0 lead.
Walter started the first drive of the second quarter finding Hakim Hill open for a pass that stretched 34 yards to the OSU 46-yard line. Hill rushed the ball down to the Beaver 26-yard line, where the Devils ran into a bump in the road. Faced with a fourth and inches, head coach Dirk Koetter called on Hill once again to run the ball, but he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, forcing the Devils to give up the ball on downs.
'[Finishing drives] is something we pride ourselves on,' said senior right guard Regis Crawford. 'It didn't happen tonight. We know that we can't win making stupid mistakes.'
The Arizona State defense was working hard, however, to keep ASU in the game. With the ball back in Beaver hands, Anderson led his charges into Sun Devil territory, driving 56 yards in just over two minutes. With the Beavers threatening once again, junior safety Jason Shivers stepped up for the Devils, making an interception on the ASU 20-yard line. Breaking free, Shivers took the ball 61 yards before he was finally brought down on the Oregon State 17-yard line. Andrew Walter would eventually find Skyler Fulton with a five-yard touchdown pass, and the Sun Devils tied it up at 7-7.
Starting from their own 20-yard line, the Beavers ran into trouble early in their next drive. Oregon State was forced to punt it away after just three plays, however, they were awarded a fresh set of downs following a costly roughing-the-kicker penalty on the Sun Devils. The penalty would prove to be a major turning point in the game. With a second chance on the drive, Anderson found wide receiver Kevin Farley wide open on a slant pattern, and Farley carried the ball the rest of the way for the 63-yard touchdown, to give the Beavers a 14-7 edge.
Trying to recover from the quick OSU drive, Walter came out throwing. However, the first play of the drive was an errant pass that sailed past its intended receiver at the OSU 25-yard line and into the outstretched arms of OSU cornerback Aric Williams. Three plays later, Anderson hooked up with wide receiver James Newson on a 28-yard pass for a touchdown and seven more Oregon State points, leaving the Devils in a 21-7 hole with 2:34 left to play in the first half.
The Beavers were not quite ready to break for halftime, and with time expiring on the clock, OSU kicker Kirk Yliniemi hit a 29-yard field goal to cap off a 17-point scoring run by the Beavers and give them a 24-7 halftime lead.
'Turnovers and penalties killed us,' Koetter said. 'Every time we got a drive going in the first half, we got a penalty that knocked us back out of it. We were able to establish a running game at times with Hakim, but we couldn't sustain it.'
ASU put the only points of the third quarter on the board with a Jesse Ainsworth 34-yard field goal with 5:45 remaining in the period to pull the Devils within two scores of the lead at 24-10.
The fourth quarter told a different story for the Devils. Beginning a drive from the ASU 19-yard line, Walter was intercepted again by Browner, who had three picks in the game, and set up the Beaver offense on the 16-yard line. Three plays later, Jackson got the ball into the end zone, breaking free for a 15-yard touchdown run, extending the OSU lead to 31-10.
OSU would score again on a fumble recovery before sophomore receiver Derek Hagan scored on a 20-yard pass from Walter to move the Devils to 38-17, but that is all ASU could muster. A final Beaver touchdown made the score 45-17 when all was said and done.
'I don't think there's a Pac-10 team that we can't beat,' Koetter said. 'There's also not a game where we can't be beat. The biggest challenge now is we have high expectations, and we're not meeting them. We have to realize that nobody is going to ride in on a white horse and save us. We have to be our own cavalry and save ourselves.'
SUN DEVIL GAME NOTES: The Sun Devils fell to 8-16-2 in Pac-10 openers...of the 14 of those that have been on the road--which include four of ASU's league openers in the last five years-- the Sun Devils have posted a 3-10-1 record... Hakim Hill led the Devils in both rushing and receiving with 115 yards on the ground and 92 through the air...it was the first time an ASU player led the team in both categories since 1996 when Michael Martin paced the team in both rushing (20-92-1) and receiving (5-74-1) in the team's 45-42 season-opening win against Washington...the victory for the Beavers snapped a seven-game ASU winning streak in the series.