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No. 25 Oregon State Tops Sun Devils in Final Home Game

Nov 19, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. – When Xazavian Valladay capped ASU's seven-play, 67-yard drive with his 11-yard scamper into the end zone in the closing moments of the second half, the scrappy Sun Devils had drawn even with No. 25 Oregon State and appeared to have momentum on their side heading into the break.

Only problem – it was a tie that would last just :53.

The Beavers reclaimed their lead when Gulbranson connected with Jack Velling, who was the beneficiary of a fake screen and slipped up field untouched for a 21-yard pitch-and-catch. 

It kicked off a stretch of 24 unanswered points that the Beavers used to bury ASU on Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium, as the Sun Devils were bested on Senior Day, 31-7.

The Sun Devils struggled to keep up with the Beaver offense, as the redshirt freshman Gulbranson threw for 188 yards and a touchdown and running back Damien Martinez ran for 138 yards and two scores on 22 carries.

The Beavers unleashed 15 plays of 10-yards or more, while also picking up 28 first downs and averaging 6.7 yards per play.

What was a 14-7 Sun Devil deficit at the half had quickly ballooned to a three-possession game, largely due to second-half mistakes and the inability to slow the Gulbranson-led Beaver offense.

On their first possession of the second half, the Beavers doubled their lead courtesy of a nifty 12-yard run by Martinez that gave them a 21-7 advantage.

Now looking to cut it to a one-score game with 10 minutes left in the third, the Sun Devils had a pivotal 4th-and-13 attempt inside Oregon State territory that was spoiled by the Beaver defense. The Beavers brought just enough pressure on Sun Devil quarterback Trenton Bourguet to force a hurried, errant throw that fell incomplete and turned the ball over on downs.

On the Beavers' ensuing drive, Gulbranson followed a convoy of blockers on a quarterback draw to score from eight yards out for a 28-7 lead.

The Beavers were given a prime scoring opportunity early in the fourth when they recovered a muffed punt at ASU's 11-yard line. Four plays and a 26-yard field goal later, the Beavers now led 31-7, capping their run of 24 unanswered points.

It was a whirlwind of a final two minutes in the first half. Valladay's 11-yard touchdown run tied him with Oregon quarterback Bo Nix for most rushing touchdowns (14) in the Pac-12 Conference after his second quarter score.

Valladay tallied 109 yards on the ground and one touchdown. He's the eighth Sun Devils since 2013 to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. Prior to this stretch, ASU only had eight 1,000 yard single-season rushers in a 26-year span from 1986-2012.  

"Valladay is special," interim head coach Shaun Aguano said postgame. "He's a force, he's going to do whatever it takes and I am proud of him. He's the heart and soul of our football team and I'm proud of his fight."

The Beavers opened the scoring on their first drive of the game, marching 78 yards in nine plays and capped it with Martinez's 5-yard touchdown run. Gulbranson completed his first five passes for 51 yards.

The Sun Devils had an early chance to respond to the first punch thrown by the Beavers, but came up empty. A 15-play, 65-yard drive that spanned seven-plus minutes was all for naught, as a 29-yard field goal attempt by Carter Brown banged off the right upright.

From then on, the Beavers were in full control in the Sun Devils' penultimate game of the season.

The Sun Devils will put a bow on their 2022 campaign on Friday, November 25, when they'll meet in-state rival Arizona in Tucson for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.