ASU football pounds USC to end 11-game skid
Cameron Marshall rushes for 141 yards, three touchdowns in 43-22 rout of Trojans
54 comments by Doug Haller – Sept. 24, 2011 10:38 PM
The Arizona Republic
The streak is history.
No matter where this season went, Arizona State had to have a signature moment. Missouri? Yes, it was nice. But USC is a different beast. The Trojans had owned the Sun Devils. Eleven consecutive wins. Five in a row at Sun Devil Stadium.
Not anymore. ASU built a lead, lost it and then overpowered the Trojans when it mattered most, posting a 43-22 win in its Pac-12 season opener Saturday night in front of 61,495 fans.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “I’ve been working hard in this program for four years now, and we haven’t beaten them in 11. That’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you think about it. Our players showed so much resilience.”
It marked the Sun Devils’ second win over a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Perhaps more important, it gives them an early edge in the Pac-12′s South Division, even with USC ineligible for postseason competition.
ASU improved to 3-1 and looks forward to next Saturday’s home date with Oregon State. USC dropped to 3-1.
“This is a football game we’ve had circled on our calendar for a very long time,” quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “The Missouri game was big, but this was a Pac-12 South game. . . . It’s definitely very special.”
Contributions came from several areas. Cameron Marshall, far from 100 percent, rushed 25 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Osweiler completed 25 of 32 for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The defense forced four turnovers, two in the red zone.
Then there was middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, grabbing his first interception on his 21st birthday. With USC driving in the first half, Burfict picked off a Matt Barkley pass and returned it 36 yards. Later in the fourth quarter, teammate Shelly Lyons picked off another Barkley pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown.
“A great feeling,” center Garth Gerhart said. “We know what USC’s all about, and it’s a huge win for us.”
The Sun Devils had to overcome adversity. They led 21-9 at halftime and gave it up. USC had 142 yards in the first half. In the second, they had 145 after two possessions. Barkley completed five passes in five attempts on USC’s first drive, bringing the Trojans to within 21-16.
After an ASU punt, the USC quarterback put together another scoring drive, giving the Trojans a 22-21 lead. But the Sun Devils didn’t fold.
“We really don’t have a panic button,” Osweiler said.
The quarterback went right to work, hitting Jamal Miles, Aaron Pflugrad and Gerell Robinson. Marshall’s 3-yard touchdown run gave the lead back to ASU.
USC then drove inside the ASU 20, but reserve defensive end Greg Smith, getting more playing time in the wake of Junior Onyeali’s injury, made two big plays. First, he stuffed USC tailback Curtis McNeal for a loss. Then on third and 5 from the 14, he sacked Barkley, forcing a fumble. Defensive tackle Bo Moos recovered.
From there, ASU did something it hasn’t. The Sun Devils stepped on an opponent’s throat. Marshall scored his third touchdown for a 36-22 lead. Lyons’ interception made it 43-22.
“This gives a lot of confidence going forward,” Osweiler said.
ASU’s offense was balanced. The Sun Devils passed for 223 yards and rushed for 169. Miles had a career-best nine catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. The Sun Devils committed six penalties for 78 yards, but Erickson took the blame for one, a sideline infraction.
“I’m undisciplined about that,” Erickson said, joking. “Go ahead and write that.”
ASU football report
Key player: Cameron Marshall, not even 100 percent healthy, raced 70 yards for a touchdown on his first carry. He finished with 25 rushes for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
Key moment: ASU led 28-22 early in the fourth quarter, but USC wasn’t done. The Trojans drove to the ASU 11, but Greg Smith came up with two big plays. First he stopped USC’s Curtis McNeal for a 3-yard loss. Then he sacked USC quarterback Matt Barkley and forced a fumble. Bo Moos recovered, and the Sun Devils never looked back.
Key number: 4. Turnovers forced by the ASU defense, two coming in the red zone.