Football keeps it close with the Sun Devils through the storm

The Southern Utah University football team lost a close road game to Arizona State University Thursday night with a score of 24-21. 

The Thunderbirds were able to stay close despite only having 226 total yards of offense compared to the Sun Devils’ 371 yards.

First quarter

In the first quarter, ASU scored on a nine-yard run from junior running back Cam Skattebo. After a punt from both teams, SUU drove 62 yards down the field and capped the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run from junior Targhee Lambson.

Second quarter

After one more punt from each team, ASU found themselves with a fourth and eight on SUU’s 47-yard line. They chose to forgo the punt and instead connected on a deep touchdown pass from true freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada to wide receiver Xavier Guillory. This play was back-breaking for what had been a very stout defensive effort for the Thunderbirds throughout the first half.

The Sun Devils continued to roll as they drove down the field in just shy of three minutes of game time. Rashada threw another touchdown with only two seconds left, this time being caught by receiver Troy Omeire. This allowed ASU to take a 21-7 lead into the break.

When halftime rolled around, a huge dust storm, or what Tempe locals call a “haboob,” accompanied by lightning came in with full force and delayed the game for around two and a half hours.

Third quarter

When the second half finally started, both offenses struggled. There were a combined five punts in a row between the two until SUU finally broke through. Red-shirt senior quarterback Justin Miller completed a 52-yard pass to wide receiver Isaiah Wooden. Just three plays later, Miller completed a pass to receiver Zach Mitchell for the score. Just like that, it was a one-possession game with 49 seconds remaining in the third.

Fourth quarter

On the kickoff, the Sun Devils were able to get a remarkable return all the way to SUU’s 16-yard line. A personal foul penalty by SUU put the ball at the six-yard line. This amazing field position, however, did not lead to a touchdown for ASU. Instead, multiple holding violations by ASU forced them to take a 38-yard field goal to put them up 24-14. 

A quick three-and-out by the Thunderbirds led to ASU getting the ball right back. After picking up two first downs, the SUU defense was able to get the stop and force a punt. 

On the punt attempt, cornerback Jordan Washington ripped right through the offensive line and blocked the punt. The ball still proceeded to wobble through the air a few yards past the line of scrimmage, where it was picked up by safety George Ramirez and returned 47 yards for a touchdown. With just under eight minutes to go the Thunderbirds trailed by just three.

ASU stalled on the next drive, and SUU had the ball on their own 40-yard line with just over six minutes left. Another three-and-out where the Thunderbirds gained just three yards led to the Sun Devils getting the ball back with five minutes to go.

ASU killed the clock and forced SUU to use their last timeout with 1:34 left. The Sun Devils were able to get the first down two plays later and took a knee to win the game.

Top performers

– Quarterback Justin Miller completed eight of 17 passes for 123 yards and threw for one touchdown.
– Running back Braedon Wissler had 15 attempts for 45 yards.
– Receiver Zach Mitchell had four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.
– Safety George Ramirez had seven tackles, two pass breakups and a touchdown.

What’s next?

SUU will head to Provo to take on Brigham Young University on Sept. 9 at 1:00 p.m. It will be broadcasted on BYUtv.

Story by: Brig Pyfer
Photo by: SUU Athletics