ASU Football: Late defensive stops key upset over Oregon

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Wide receiver N'Keal Harry
TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Wide receiver N'Keal Harry /

ASU football snapped a 10-game losing streak against Oregon with a 37-35 upset over the No. 24 Ducks behind a few key defensive stops in the fourth quarter.

After posting 42 first-half points in three consecutive weeks, the Oregon Ducks couldn’t reach that number when the final horn sounded. Instead, the nation’s No. 24 team dropped its first game of the season in a 37-35 thriller to Arizona State.

Freshman placekicker Brandon Ruiz showed that filling the shoes of Lou Groza winner Zane Gonzalez is a task he can handle. Trailing 35-34, the top kicking prospect calmly drilled a 41-yard attempt with 2:33 remaining to put ASU ahead for good. Ruiz also connected on kicks from 24 and 29 yards earlier in the game.

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In a matchup of two offensive minded teams, it was the Sun Devils defense that preserved the victory. Oregon was 1-of-11 on third down and ran 65 offensive plays compared to the 92 that ASU had.

“For the defense to have 27 plays going into halftime against a very good offensive team, I think that was a big difference in the game was how well they executed,” said quarterback Manny Wilkins.

Now four games into his redshirt junior season, Wilkins appears to be making strides as he has yet to throw an interception in 140 passing attempts this year. Against Oregon, he threw for 347 yards and a touchdown as well as a couple of scores on the ground.

“He’s starting to be a play caller… him and N’Keal [Harry] have a feel for each other that’s really neat, ” said head coach Todd Graham. “Manny is a leader now… he’s really learning and working hard to be better and manage the game.”

The connection Graham mentioned between his quarterback and top wide receiver was on full display against the Ducks. Wilkins seems to have found a go-to receiver in Harry who was utilized all over the field and finished with seven receptions, a career-high 170 yards and a touchdown.

Harry’s most notable play of the night came on a 52-yard pickup to convert a third-and-27 all while drawing defensive pass interference. Despite posting back-to-back career games, Oregon left the true sophomore in one-on-one coverage for much of the game.

“You try to man cover me with no safety. That’s disrespectful,” said Harry.

Next: ASU Football: Arizona State vs. Oregon rapid reaction

Following their upset over Oregon, the Sun Devils (2-2, 1-0) next travel to Stanford to take on the Cardinal (2-2, 1-1) after a 58-34 win over UCLA. Kickoff for that game will be on Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. PST.