The Arizona State Sun Devils fought and clawed the whole game, only to have their hopes and dreams shot down by one swift kick through the uprights. Dennis Erickson and his Sun Devils' might have had their dreams of a postseason bowl turn into a nightmare of a season as well.
The Sun Devils played well, even though as their usual self, ASU started out slow on offense. Turnovers, penalties, and blown opportunities once again spelt doom for the maroon and gold.
Although, through all of that, ASU still felt that they should have, and could have beat the California Golden Bears. The defense stepped up to the plate and shutdown the rushing attack of Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. Arizona State even forced the turnovers necessary to win the game. But, on the other hand, the offense squander their opportunities that their defensive teammates forced, while stalling on their offensive drives.
Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan struggled early, and tried to formulate a comeback—and he did—but with support. The return of Kyle Williams at receiver was a big lift for the offense, and that showed with his 80 yard touchdown reception that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter.
However, the Sun Devils tried for another big play later in the game, but Sullivan ended up finding Syd'Quan Thompson for a big interception that set up a California field goal.
But when times were tough for ASU, the offense went to the running game and running back Cameron Marshall. The rushing attack for the Sun Devils was important, to try and keep the defense off the field as long as possible, and in the fourth quarter that defense was awarded with a six yard touchdown run by Marshall to give ASU a 21-20 lead with ten minutes left in the game.
Arizona State's defense responded as they have all season, forcing the Bears to punt the ball and see what Sullivan and the ASU offense could do. But in the end, the Sun Devils fell inches short of securing a victory. Cameron Marshall, tried and fought out a tough three and half yard run, on third and four with three minutes left in the game.
Although a last gasp effort by Marshall to stretch the ball and reach a first, came up inches short. That left the ASU offense with a little bit of uncertainty, whether to try for a short yard or punt it and rely on the dominant defense. Well Erickson chose to punt, after calling a timeout, and the rest as we say, "is history." The Sun Devil defense relinquished a time consuming 79 yard drive, that set up a game winning kick for California with 21 seconds left.
Would I have gambled and tried to pick up one yard, and win the game with muscle? Yes, Erickson has a 6 foot 5 inch quarterback with muscle, or he could turn to Freshman back up quarterback Brock Osweiler who stands at 6 foot 8 inches, and tell either on of them, "get me one yard!"
In the end, the decision was called into question, and Erickson did not allow either quarterback to win the game for his team. Erickson felt confident in his defense, and unfortunately it was not enough late in the contest to pull off the upset on Homecoming.
The Sun Devils have been haunted with mistakes, blown assignments, and poor execution this season, from top to bottom, and how fitting that their dreams of a successful season, might have turned into a bad dream on Halloween.
Sure the fans at Sun Devil Stadium have given both the coaches and players their fare share of boos, but that all could have changed, if the Sun Devils took a chance, and felt the outpouring of support from the fans in attendance, if the Erickson chose to try for the fourth and short play with three minutes remaining in the game.
Football is a very passionate game, fueled with determination and hard work. I would have liked to see that hard work, passion, and determination find a way to earn an important first down, that could have iced the game. But the celebrations were only one sided, as the game is a game of inches, and the Sun Devils did not show the grit necessary in this loss to earn the victory.