TEMPE, Ariz. — No. 24 Oregon was destroyed by penalties and third down (1-for-11) failures against Arizona State on Saturday, 37-35. Sun Devil quarterback Manny Wilkins was the star with 382 total yards and three scores. UO has now lost their last three Pac-12 openers.
The Ducks shot themselves in the foot on 14 separate occasions from Sun Devil Stadium. Oregon’s 14 penalties cost them a total of 99 yards. Not to mention, the offense was a putrid nine percent on the third down.
"It was a lack of execution by everybody. We didn’t do a good job,” stated Oregon head coach Willie Taggart after the loss.
Oregon took their first lead of the evening, 35-34, with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Herbert’s ninth rush of the night resulted in the go-ahead tally.
It was short-lived as Wilkins drove the Devils down the field yet again. For their final points of the game, Brandon Ruiz buried a 41-yard field goal for the eventual game-winner 37-35.
Nevertheless, the Ducks had their opportunities. Herbert failed to get a drive started on two straight possessions to conclude the contest. The sophomore was avoiding pressure all game. He finished 19-of-35 for 281 yards and three scores without an interception. Herbert added 10 carries for 36 yards and a rushing TD.
ASU started the game with a bang. Following an empty opening drive by Oregon that saw Brenden Schooler drop a possible-touchdown pass, Wilkins led ASU 40 yards on five plays in 1:34 before his rushing TD placed his team ahead 7-0.
ASU’s electric QB finished 24-of-39 for 347 passing yards and a touchdown. He had 14 carries for 35 yards on the ground and two rushing scores.
The Ducks answered right back with Dillon Mitchell, however. The wide receiver inhaled a 7-yard scoring pass from Herbert. Oregon drove 75 yards on eight plays in 2:45 off the clock.
Arizona State continued to answer Oregon and then some. The Sun Devils responded with a 15-play, 75-yard drive in 5:56 for the 14-7 lead.
Following a perfectly executed onside kick, ASU added a 29-yard field goal from Ruiz for the 10-point advantage, 17-7.
“The first half, they took it to us offensively instead of us taking it to them,” said Taggart.
With 31 seconds left in the first half, Freeman broke Oregon’s all-time rushing touchdown record with his 12-yard untouched score, 17-14. He passed the legend LaMichael James on Saturday with his 54th career rushing score for the Ducks.
Freeman carried the rock just 15 times for 81 yards and a score with a long of 20 yards.
It only got worse after halftime. ASU opened up a 31-14 lead to start the second half before the Ducks answered back. Johnny Johnson III caught his first career collegiate touchdown for 20 yards by Herbert. The TD placed UO within 10 points again, 31-21.
A 3rd and 27 completion of 52 yards to N’Keal Harry summed up this game in one play. Arizona State simply outplayed Oregon during longer stretches of the contest.
Jalen Jelks kept the Ducks alive with his breakout performance vs the Sun Devil offensive line. The junior was incredible with eight tackles, seven solos, five tackles for loss and three of Oregon’s four sacks.
Tony Brooks-James looked like a No. 1 wide receiver when he brought down his 22-yard scoring catch from Herbert. The great snag placed UO within three points, 31-28.
If it wasn’t Jelks, it was freshman Jordon Scott or captain Henry Mondeaux disrupting Wilkins. They combined for eight tackles and helped guide Oregon’s defense to 13 TFL for the game. The defensive line allowed just 142 rushing yards on 53 carries (2.7 YPC) for ASU.
Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. was picked on early and often, as per usual for the true freshman thus far. He led the way with eight tackles and one pass breakup.
Christian Sam led the Sun Devil defense with a game-high 11 tackles. He wrapped up nine Ducks by himself, including 1.5 TFL.
Jalen Harvey led all receivers with a game-high eight receptions and 133 yards (16.6 YPC) for the Sun Devils. Harry registered seven catches for a game-high 170 yards (24.3 YPC) and a touchdown.
Mitchell led the receivers for Oregon with five catches for 61 yards and his TD.
Tight end Jacob Breeland registered a pivotal 51-yard catch alongside four grabs for 95 yards (23.3 YPC).
TBJ had three catches for 55 yards and a TD, but the offense was severely missing senior Charles Nelson. His absence can’t be understated.
Willie Taggart wasn't happen with unsportsmanlike penalty. TBJ getting a talking to after that. pic.twitter.com/4fjxZnmxu8— Kevin Wade (@KwadeSays) September 24, 2017
ASU won the yardage battle 489-401 but Oregon made it close in the second half. Yet, the Sun Devils controlled the clock (38:06) and limited their penalties (6-65) compared to the Ducks. Wilkins led ASU to 8-for-20 on third down.
Next up for No. 24 Oregon (3-1) is a meeting with California (3-1) at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. The Ducks lost to the Golden Bears 52-49 in a double-overtime shootout last season in Berkeley. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. PT via Fox Sports Net.