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Jayden Daniels Leads Sun Devils to 35-13 Win Over Buffaloes

Sep 25, 2021

By Griffin Fabits, Sun Devil Communications Graduate Assistant

TEMPE -- To bury the Buffaloes, all the Sun Devils needed to do was reach into their big bag of tricks and summon a right-handed strike from … Ricky Pearsall, the wide receiver who had attempted just two career passes entering the game.

Up 21-10 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Jayden Daniels flicked a pass just behind the line of scrimmage to Pearsall, who baited the defense, then relayed it back across field to Rachaad White, who used an escort of blockers to scamper 30 yards for a touchdown.


The pesky Buffaloes had made it as close as 14-10, but the Daniels-Pearsall-White connection was the exclamation point that stamped a 35-13 win against Colorado in the Pac-12 opener Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.

"I wanted them to play free," Edwards said. "That's all I talked about all week. Don't play cautious. Don't be a cautious football team. Just free yourself up and enjoy the game of football.

"We kept our momentum. We really never lost momentum in this game. We always felt like we had control of it."

Daniels was terrific all night, completing 18-of-25 passes for 236 yards while running for 75 yards and two scores. In the first quarter, Daniels eclipsed 5,000 total yards in his Sun Devil career.

He connected with seven receivers, two of which were LV Bunkley-Shelton and Johnny Wilson, who set career-highs in receiving yards with 76 and 70, respectively.

The Sun Devils got on the board first on their second drive of the game, when Daniels held on to a read-option and scurried around the edge for a seven-yard score and an early 7-0 edge. They doubled their lead a quarter later when Rachaad White's 11-yard run made it a 14-0 game. 

White now has three multi-touchdown games this season and five in his last six contests, dating back to last season.

The Buffalo offense had five drives in the first two quarters and just three points to show for it, thanks to a 51-yard field goal from Cole Becker, as they went into the half trailing, 14-3.

After the stagnant, sloppy offensive showing in the first half, they wasted little time on the opening possession of the third quarter. Their eight play, 75-yard trip was capped by a 1-yard punch-in from tailback Alex Fontenot, who cut the Devils' lead to 14-10.

But the Sun Devils dished it right back, patching together a terrific six-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a score from an unlikely source: Elijah Badger, who had previously been used only on defense thus far. 

Badger took an end-around from Daniels and slipped into the end zone for a 17-yard score for both the first touch and touchdown of his career to make it a 21-10 game.

From there, Daniels willed the Sun Devil offense into a groove, orchestrating two key scoring drives to down the Buffaloes. After the Pearsall trickery, Daniels scrambled for a 15-yard touchdown on the next drive, his second rushing score of the night, for a comfortable 35-10 advantage.

The Buffaloes added a late field goal to make it 35-13, ending the Sun Devils' stretch of 21 unanswered second half points.

The Sun Devil defense aced a tough test against the Buffalo rushing attack, led by Jarek Broussard, last season's Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Broussard touted the rock 12 times for 35 yards, totaling just three yards in the first half. 

The Buffaloes converted on just five of 15 third down attempts, as they were held to 250 total yards of offense.

Colorado entered tonight touting the best defense in the Pac-12, holding opponents to 15.7 points through the first three games of the year, until the Sun Devils greeted them with a season-high 35 points allowed.

After head coach Herm Edwards told reporters earlier in the week his team's "forcing of things" was contributing to an early-season penalty plague, the Sun Devils responded with a tidy win against a Pac-12 foe. It's the first time in the Edwards era the Sun Devils have started 1-0 in conference play.

"We just cleaned it up and did exactly what we thought we could do," said Darien Butler, the team tackle-leader who added seven more tonight.

The Sun Devils are back on the road next week in Pasadena to meet the UCLA Bruins, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.