#19 Sun Devil Football Drops Road Opener at #23 BYU
PROVO, Utah - The #19 Sun Devil football team was unable to overcome four turnovers and a slew of penalties in a tough 27-17 loss at #23 BYU on Saturday evening.
ASU outgained the Cougars in total offense (426-361) and had a five-minute edge in time of possession, but the turnovers and 16 penalties for 121 yards would prove to be the team's undoing.
Jayden Daniels threw for a season-high 265 yards on 21-of-29 passing but had two interceptions. The Sun Devil run game was again efficient, with Rachaad White and Daniyel Ngata accounting for 153 of ASU's 161 rushing yards and both of ASU's touchdowns.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde kind of night for the Sun Devil defense, which had absolutely dominant frames in the first and third quarters but struggled to get stops when they needed them in the second and fourth frames. BYU had just 82 total yards of offense and seven points in the first and third quarters, but combined for 279 yards and 20 points to close out the halves.
Kyle Soelle had a career high 11 tackles while Jack Jones and Merlin Robertson recorded interceptions as ASU held BYU to a solid 361 total yards of offense.
THE BIG MOMENT
ASU appeared to flip all momentum in the third quarter, clipping into a 21-7 halftime deficit with a touchdown and field goal to get back within four. ASU looked prime to further cut into the lead after Merlin Robertson intercepted BYU quarterback Jaren Hall in ASU territory and returned it 60 yards before he was run down by BYU running back Tyler Allgeier, who stripped Robertson and BYU was able to recover, keeping it a four-point game through three quarters.
THE FINAL STRAW
ASU struggled with the crowd volume at LaVell Edwards Stadium and was flagged for seven penalties for over 50 yards in the final frame, including a pair of facemask calls. BYU capitalized on the final facemask call, using it as catalyst for a 12-play, 77-yard touchdown drive with 1:19 left in regulation to effectively put the game away.
HOW IT GOT THERE
Things got off to an inauspicious start for the Sun Devils after Geordon Porter fumbled the opening kickoff deep in Sun Devil territory, spotting the Cougars a quick seven points after a three-play, 12-yard drive. ASU dug in though and immediately responded with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive keyed by a big audible and 58-yard pass from Daniels to Andre Johnson to the BYU one-yard line. White walked into the end zone on the following play to even things at 7-7. ASU would dominate the field position game, holding BYU to just 12 yards in the quarter but several key penalties wiped some big plays off the board and kept ASU from capitalizing as the score would remain even for the remainder of the frame.
ASU continued to move the ball early in the second quarter but a tipped interception in BYU territory marked a huge shift in the game's momentum. BYU would score on a defensive breakdown in the secondary on a Cougar double-reverse flea flicker and wide open receiver in the end zone to make it 14-7. A three-and-out on the ensuing ASU drive would be followed by a eight-play, 74-yard drive by BYU to make it a two-possession game at 21-7. BYU threatened again heading into the halftime break following ASU's third turnover of the half but Jack Jones picked off Hall in the end zone for the first turnover of Hall's career to keep ASU within two touchdowns going into the break.
The Sun Devil defense held to lead off the second half and the offense put on a clinic in the trenches, going 80 yards on nine plays - 74 of which came on the ground behind White, Daniels and a change of pace from Ngata, who rushed for 51 yards on four straight carries and a touchdown to bring ASU back within seven. The Devils forced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing drive, tacking on a 40-yard Cristian Zendejas field goal with 3:40 left in the frame to get back within 21-17. Robertson accounted for ASU's second interception on the ensuing drive. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, Robertson was stripped after a 60-yard return and the Cougars recovered the fumble to retain possession and keep it a four-point game heading to the final frame.
BYU would drive back into ASU territory after flipping the Robertson interception-fumble but ASU forced a key sack to push the Cougars out of field goal range. Pinned deep in BYU territory, the Sun Devils could not find the rhythm on offense with four false start penalties to halt any sense of momentum and punted the ball away – a beautiful 59-yard punt by Eddie Czaplicki to flip the field to the BYU 23-yard line – with 6:37 remaining. It would go for naught as BYU got a big 17-yard rush on the first play and extended its drive behind a 15-yard facemask call four plays later. BYU would take 5:18 off the clock on 12 plays and put the game away with a three-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining.
- BYU quarterback Jaren Hall had not turned the ball over in his career prior to his two interceptions to Jack Jones and Merlin Robertson.
- Jayden Daniels went over 4,000 passing yards for his career, finishing with a season-high 265 on the night and brining his career total to 4,216. On the flip side, it was also the first two-interception game of Daniels' career.
- The third quarter shutout by the ASU defense snapped BYU's streak of scoring in nine straight quarters.
- ASU now has 40 turnovers over its last 14 games dating back to 2019, the most of any team in the country over a 14-game span (Iowa, 34).
- ASU has 25 rushing touchdowns over its last six games, the most of any game in the country over a six-game span (Buffalo, 21)