ASU football and Fresno State are tied 17-17 after a half of football, and both sides showed strength running the ball.
The first half of the Las Vegas Bowl was evenly matched between Fresno State and Arizona State. Though ASU outgained the Bulldogs 230 to 155, a poor start for ASU has helped Fresno State keep it knotted at 17.
Here are some of the takeaways from the first half of the 2018 Las Vegas Bowl.
Pick six energized ASU
Midway through the first quarter, quarterback Manny Wilkins did something he usually doesn’t do — threw an interception. Wilkins paid for it, as the Bulldogs returned it 70 yards to the house, giving them a 10-0 lead.
But that didn’t deflate the Sun Devils.
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Instead, ASU came out firing after Wilkins’ miscue. The very next drive, ASU went nine plays and 65 yards and scored its first touchdown of the game.
ASU also scored on the following two drives. The first was a rushing touchdown by Benjamin, and the second was a short field goal by Brandon Ruiz.
Even though ASU failed to find the end zone in the Sun Devils’ last drive of the half, it was an impressive series. It was a 17-play drive that went for 72 yards and a field goal. Talk about clock management.
Fresno State having no trouble on the ground
In the first half, Fresno State struggled to throw the ball. Marcus McMaryion finished the first 30 minutes completing 6 of 12 passes for 72 yards.
But the Bulldogs found success in another area: rushing. The Bulldogs averaged 5.6 yards per carry, led by running back Ronnie Rivers, who ran for 54 yards in the half.
McMaryion also showed prowess on the ground in the first half. The senior quarterback ran for 17 yards and a touchdown on just two carries.
Some of the early struggles in stopping the Fresno State rushing attack may be due to Merlin Robertson and Jalen Harvey not playing. The two are some of ASU’s most elite defenders, and Robertson was named to the USA Today Freshman All-American team.
Wide receivers looking in N’Keal Harry‘s absence
Even though N’Keal Harry, maybe the most talented receiver in program history, isn’t dressed out today, ASU still moved the ball well in the air in the first half.
Other than the interception, Wilkins played well, completing 14 of 18 passes for 111 yards and a passing touchdown. But he’s not the only one to attribute for this aerial success — the receiving core did its part.
In the first 30 minutes, six different Sun Devils caught passes, and that’s not counting the Frank Darby deep ball that was brought back due to holding.
Adding this to a strong performance by Benjamin and the running game, the Sun Devils could be tough to stop if both keep clicking.