Arizona State Sun Devils

Devils open the season by ground pounding Northern Arizona 40-3

Photo - Sun Devil Athletics

(Tempe, AZ)  Arizona State hosted Northern Arizona to kick off the 2022 season.

The Sun Devils went 8-5 last season, culminating in a tough loss 20-13 to Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The Jacks are coming off a 5-6 season that ended with a 45-21 victory over Cal-Poly.

NAU beat Arizona last year 21-19 as this game alternates between the U of A and Arizona State yearly.

ASU Student Section

The Sun Devil defense is the strong point entering this season and will have to carry the load at least in the first part of the season until the offense which is full of newcomers gels.

Emory Jones took the helm after last year’s starter Jayden Daniels transferred to LSU. Jones too came to Tempe via the Portal from the University of Florida.

After stopping the Lumberjacks on the opening in drive, the Devils drove to the NAU ten yard line and settled for a twenty seven yard field goal to grab an early lead 3-0 just shy of the midway point on the first quarter.

Neither team came out fast, but the Devils did have a pick six called back on a defensive offsides penalty. The quarter ended with just the ASU field goal on the scoreboard.

The Jacks got going to begin the second quarter and took the ball just inside the ASU red zone where their attempted field goal never got off the turf due to a bad snap.

Arizona State sparked by their defensive stop, cruised down the field and on a fourth down from the half yard line, Jones went over his left guard on a sneak to score on a 9 plays 72 yard drive to put the Sun Devils up 10-0 at the 8:05 mark of the second quarter.

The Devils had a huge advantage on the ground with their big offensive line opening up big holes for Daniyel Ngata and newcomer Xazavian Valladay, who played at Wyoming before transferring to ASU.

With 4:22 left in the first half, NAU defensive end Eloísa Kwete was disqualified on a targeting call to the helmet of Jones.

Photo – Sun Devils Athletics

From there, ASU took it in on a four yard off tackle run by Valladay to extend the lead to 17-0 with 3:44 to go. It took just 6 plays to go 75 yards in 2:39 showing early that the Sun Devils can move the ball effectively.

After an ASU interception at the Lumberjacks forty five the quick strike Devils once again kept their foot on NAU’s neck with a 2 play 45 yards score with Jone carrying it in from 17 yards out to make it 24-0.

NAU finally got on the scoreboard with a forty seven yard field goal with five seconds left till halftime.

Halftime score ASU 24   NAU 3

The Devils picked right up where they let off ripping off big chunks of yardage on the ground capped off by a Valladay twenty seven yard run up the left slide line to make it 31-3. ASU went sixty eight yards in five plays to showcase their big play abilities.

ASU safety Chris Edmonds picked off a RJ Martinez pass at the fifty yard line and took it back thirty six yards and the Devils were back in business.

Photo – Sun Devil Athletics

The drive stalled at the nineteen after gaining just six yards, but Carter Brown booted a thirty six yard field goal to make the score 34-3 with 9:42 left in the third quarter.

All game long, the Sun Devil’s defense continued to hammer NAU and their offense couldn’t get any consistent yardage.

On the other side, Jones showed he can be as mobile as Jayden Daniels was the previous two years. The biggest difference is Jones’ superior arm strength and accuracy which was missing under Daniels.

Arizona State continued to eat clock by keeping it on the ground and why not, with Jones, Ngata and Valladay making it look easy.

The Sun Devils tacked on another field goal with a 10 play 39 yards drive and as Brown booted a forty four yard field goal and the route continued 37-3 to end the third quarter and saw a large part of the crowd depart.

In came some of the reserves to get playing time as Tevin White broke off a twenty eight yard run to bolster their already strong group of running backs.

Add another field goal with 7:54 to go on a 12 play 55 yard drive and the route continued 40-3.

Trenton Bourguet from Marana Paul Tyson came in for mop-up duty for the Devils as White stayed at tailback. All Arizona State would do is continue to kill the clock on the ground.

This blowout is certainly not indicative of how good ASU is as that will be more on display next week against Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

One thing we do know is the Devil defense is for real carrying over their dominance from last season. They held the Jacks to 23 yards rushing on 23 attempts for a one yard average per carry.

The Devils gained 267 yards on 49 carries for a 5.4 yard average. Until the back-ups came in, their yards per carry was over 7 yards.

Arizona State was five for five in the red zone as NAU’s only red zone opportunity ended on a bad snap on a field goal attempt.

Final Score ASU 40   NAU 3. Tonight’s attendance was 44,764.





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