Arizona State rallies for hard-fought 32-28 victory over UTSA

Coach Frank Wilson leads the Roadrunners in their spirit walk to the Alamodome

SAN ANTONIO -- Kalen Ballage, who tied an FBS record with eight touchdowns last week, scored only one TD against UTSA on Friday night at the Alamodome.

But his 2-yard run with 3:15 left was the difference in the Sun Devils' 32-28 victory before a crowd of 29,035.

UTSA, which led throughout most of the game, fell to 0-8 against Power 5 teams. The Roadrunners slipped to 1-2 with the loss to ASU (3-0).  

Final: Arizona State 32, UTSA 28

Fourth quarter: Dalton Sturm's desperation pass on fourth-and-24 from the UTSA 32 falls incomplete with 1:10 left.

Fourth quarter: ASU cornerback J'Marcus Rhodes intercepts a Dalton Sturm pass at the UTSA 45 and returns the pick 20 yards with 1:44 left. ASU 32, UTSA 28. After replay review, interception is reversed. UTSA maintains possession. 

Fourth quarter: ASU 32, UTSA 28. Kalen Ballage's first TD of the game on a 2-yard run puts the Sun Devils ahead. with 3:15 left. Zane Gonzalez kicks the PAT. The score ended a nine-play, 58-yard drive that consumed 3:50. 

Fourth quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 25, 7:05 left. 

Fourth quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 25. Sun Devils cut the deficit to three points on a 45-yard pass from Manny Wilkins to Frederick Gammage with 11:40 left. Zane Gonzalez adds the PAT.  

Fourth quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 18. Zane Gonzalez makes his fourth field goal of the game, a 26-yarder on the first play of the period. 

End of third quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 15

Third quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 15. Zane Gonzalez makes 45-yard field goal with 4:58 left in the period. 

Third quarter: UTSA 28, ASU 12. Dalton Sturm hooks up with tight end Shaq Williams for 24-yard TD with 8:20 remaining in the period. Victor Falcon converts the PAT. The Roadrunners' TD came on the play immediately after Aneas Hendricks recovered a fumble on an ASU punt return. 

Third quarter: UTSA 21, ASU 12. The Sun Devils' Zane Gonzalez misses a 53-yard field-goal attempt with 9:47 to go in the period. 

Third quarter: UTSA 21, ASU 12. Dalton Sturm scores on a 34-yard scramble, ending a five-play, 92-yard drive on the first possession of the second half. Victor Falcon adds the PAT. The key play in the drive was a 48-yard pass from Sturm to running back Jarveon Williams on a third-and-2 that moved the Roadrunners to the ASU 36. Sturm scored two plays later. 

Halftime: UTSA 14, ASU 12

First-half notes: UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm completed 11 of 19 passes for 112 yards and two TDs. He also led the Roadrunners in rushing with 50 yards on seven carries. Sturm was sacked twice. UTSA running backs Jalen Rhodes (5-12) and Jarveon Williams (6-5) had only a combined 17 yards in the first two quarters. The Roadrunners had 67 yards rushing on 18 carries. They were held to a minus-1 yards in last week's 23-14 loss to Colorado State.  . . . ASU outgained UTSA 217-179 in total offensive yardage. Both teams ran 37 plays. The Sun Devils piled up 652 yards in their wild 68-55 victory over Texas Tech last week. . . . ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins hit 8 of 19 passes for 130 yards and one TD. He was intercepted once and sacked one. . . . Running back Kalen Ballage, who tied an FBS record with eight TDs in the win over Tech, did not score in the first half. He rushed for 31 yards on six  carries. Ballage had 137 yards last week. Demario Richard led the Sun Devils' ground game in the first half with 38 yards on eight carries. UTSA is 0-7 against Power Five teams.  

Second quarter: UTSA 14, ASU 12. Manny Wilkins throws 27-yard TD pass to N'Keal Harry with three seconds left in the half. Wilkins' pass on the two-point conversion attempt falls incomplete. ASU's TD ended a 12-play, 91-yard march that consumed 3:06. 

Second quarter: UTSA 14, ASU 6. Zane Gonzalez makes his second 54-yard field goal of the game to cut the Roadrunners' lead to 14-6 with 8:02 left in the half. The kick ended a seven-play, 55-yard drive that took only 1:09. 

Second quarter: On a play immediately after a 55-yard ASU TD pass was nullified by a holding penalty, UTSA safety Nate Gaines intercepts a pass at the Roadrunners; 30 with 11:18 left. UTSA makes one first down and reaches its 45 before the Sun Devils force a punt. 

End of first quarter: UTSA 14, ASU 3 

First quarter: UTSA 14, ASU 3. Dalton Sturm throws his second TD pass of the opening period, an 11-yarder to running back Jalen Rhones, with 1:43 left. Victor Falcon converts his second extra-point kick. Deep snapper Matt Bayliss set up the UTSA TD when he recovered a fumble by Kalen Ballage on a botched punt return at the Sun Devils' 14. 

First quarter: UTSA 7, ASU 3. Dalton Sturm passes to wide receiver JaBryce Taylor for 10-yard TD with 5:58 left in the opening period. Taylor's scoring reception capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6:11. 

First quarter: ASU 3, UTSA 0. Zane Gonzalez kicks 54-yard field to cap the game's first possession with 12:09 left in the opening period. Gonzalez's kick ended an eight-play, 30-yard drive. 

UTSA GAMEDAY: Defense faces big test against prolific ASU offense

Arizona State (2-0) vs. UTSA (1-1)
Kickoff: 8 p.m., Friday, Alamodome
Series record: First meeting

SAN ANTONIO – Less than a week after stumbling in their first road test under first-year head coach Frank Wilson, the UTSA Roadrunners face one of the toughest challenges they’ve drawn since kicking off their first season five years ago.

A 23-14 loser to Colorado State last Saturday, UTSA now has the unenviable task of trying to get back on track against a Power 5 team coming off a stellar offensive performance.

Led by running back Kalen Ballage, who tied an FBS record with eight touchdowns, Arizona State beat Texas Tech 68-55 in a wildcat slugfest Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz. Ballage, who rushed for 137 yards, ran for seven TDs and caught a pass for another score. And he did all that  while touching the ball only 15 times.  

The Roadrunners (1-1) host the Sun Devils (2-0) at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome in a nationally televised game. ASU is led by former Rice coach Todd Graham, who is 36-19 with the Sun Devils since taking over the program before the 2012 season.

“They do a very good job running the ball,” Wilson said. “Whether it be from the tailback position or the quarterback position, they’re a run-pass option team, so their quarterback will tuck it in (and run). They bring in their wildcat quarterback (Ballage) in short-yardage, goal-line situations and he’s very efficient in getting the ball in the end zone.  

“They’re an experienced offensive line. They block very well at the point of attack, and they try to get vertical. They’re an assaulting, downhill vertical run team, so we’ll have to have gap integrity and tackle extremely well.”

The prolific ASU offense will go against a UTSA defense that yielded 220 yards rushing in the loss to Colorado State. There was a silver lining for the Roadrunners: They gave up 193 yards on the ground in the first half but held the Rams to only 61 yards of total offense in the final two quarters.

Ballage sparked an offense that piled up a whopping 652 yards – 301 rushing and 351 passing in 90 plays – against Tech. Ballage scored six TDs from the wildcat formation, or the “Sparky,” as ASU calls it. 

The Sun Devils changed the name of  the formation to get away from using the mascot of their in-state rivals, the Arizona Wildcats. Ballage scored six of his TDs from the wildcat, taking a shotgun snap from the quarterback spot to wreak havoc.

“He’s a great, physical back,” UTSA outside linebacker La'Kel Bass said. “We’ve all got to run to the ball and tackle. That’s pretty much it. Our main focus has been playing physical. Everybody’s flying to the ball, and that’s pretty much it.”

Quarterback Manny Wilkins also had an outstanding game against Tech, completing 28 of 37 attempts for 351 yards. DeMario Richard was the workhorse on the ground for the Wildcats, gaining 109 yards on 30 carries.

Wilson said that it was obvious from watching film of the Sun Devils this week that they pride themselves on running the ball.

“I think any quality football team that sustains success for a duration of time has to have the ability to run the ball,” Wilson said. “For five years, since Coach Graham has been there, they’ve been very successful, and part of it is because they’ve run the ball very successfully. I think that’s the DNA of most successful teams.”

UTSA’s ground game in the loss to Colorado State contrasted sharply with ASU’s big rushing night in the desert. Hobbled by an ankle injury, running back Jarveon Williams was held to a career-low 10 yards, and the Roadrunners finished with minus-1 yard rushing as a team.  

 “We’ll continue to do the things that we’ve done thus far from a run-game perspective,” Wilson said. “We’ll have to finish blocks, we’ll have to finish runs and sometimes make plays, and that means making that one guy miss.

“If there’s a safety that comes down in there, sometimes you’ve got to make him miss if you’re the tailback. If you’re the receiver, you’ve got to go dig him (safety) out of there. One man away won’t be sufficient enough for us. We’ll have to have the ability to create long runs.”

Junior Dalton Sturm will make his third start of the season at quarterback for the Roadrunners, but graduate transfer Jerod Johnson also will play. Sturm completed 15 of 23 passes for 174 yards and two TDs last week, but he was sacked six times.

Safety Michael Egwuagu led the Roadrunners’ defense with 12 tackles, and linebacker Josiah Tauaefa and safety Nate Gaines had nine each.

A big key to staying with the Sun Devils will be matching their physical play on both sides of the line of scrimmage, Wilson said.

“I think it’s a challenge for any team, young or not, just the ability where our wherewithal, our toughness will be tested,” he said. “We’ll have to play with a physicality that’s able to withstand the duration of the game.

"They’re that type of team, so we’re prepared for that in that manner. They’re a team that’ll run the ball, an assaulting run team, and they tackle well, and they support the run from a defensive perspective as well.”

(© 2016 KENS)


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