Defense Carries Football in Loss at No. 5 Washington

In a hard-fought game between Sun Devil football (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12) and No. 5 Washington (7-0, 4-0), it was the defensive prowess that took center stage. The game ended in a 15-7 loss for Arizona State, with a late defensive touchdown turning the tide at Husky Stadium.

Sun Devil’s Lead Snatched Away

Arizona State had a 7-6 lead going into the fourth quarter and was positioned deep in Washington territory when Mishael Powell intercepted a Trenton Bourguet pass. Powell then returned the interception an astounding 89 yards for a game-changing touchdown. Despite the setback, the ASU defense held firm during the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt, keeping the deficit at 12-7.

The Offensive Struggle

After Washington added a field goal, Bourget led the Sun Devils to midfield in a bid to reclaim the lead. However, his pass to Jalin Conyers was broken up, ending the upset attempt. Bourguet managed to throw for 196 yards with completions to eight different receivers, and Elijah Badger was his primary target with eight catches for 50 yards. The Sun Devils managed 145 rushing yards, with DeCarlos Brooks contributing 63 yards and Cam Skattebo adding 51.

Defensive Dominance

The Sun Devil defense proved to be the star of the show, forcing the Huskies’ top-ranked offense into four turnovers and keeping them out of the end zone. Washington’s offense finished with 288 yards, marking their lowest output since the final game of the 2021 season. Remarkably, the Huskies’ 13 rushing yards represent the lowest total allowed by an ASU defense since their game against Stanford on October 8, 2021.

Caleb McCullough led the defense with eight tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and a pass breakup. Ed Woods, Dashaun Mallory, and Elijah O’Neal also contributed with tackles-for-loss. Woods added six tackles and a forced fumble.

Missed Opportunities

Despite creating extra possessions through turnovers, ASU only managed to score seven points from those takeaways. They struggled to convert on their trips into the red zone and were unsuccessful on both field goal attempts.

Michael Penix Jr. Contained

ASU’s defense had a significant impact on the game, limiting Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr. to four turnovers, 275 passing yards (a season-low), and no touchdowns. This marked the first time Penix failed to score a touchdown since the ASU upset victory over Washington on Oct. 8, 2022.

Looking Ahead

The Sun Devils will return home to Mountain America Stadium on Oct. 28, where they will face Washington State at 5 p.m. MST. You can catch the game on Pac-12 Network or listen to it on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM or ESPN 620 AM with Tim Healey and Jeff Van Raaphorst.

The Game in Quarters

1st Quarter: Sun Devils Set the Tone

The first quarter of the game saw Ro Torrence intercepting Penix, creating an opportunity for the Sun Devils. However, they couldn’t capitalize on the turnover. ASU managed six first downs and outperformed the Huskies in rushing, showcasing their determination to control the time of possession.

2nd Quarter: Defensive Battle

The second quarter was much like the first. Penix was intercepted by Shamari Simmons when it looked like the Huskies might take the lead. It was only the second time in Penix’s Husky career that he threw two interceptions in a single game and his first red zone interception of the season. After an ASU punt, a Penix fumble gave ASU great field position, and Skattebo scored his sixth touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run. Washington responded with a field goal to make it 7-3 at halftime.

3rd Quarter: Stalemate Continues

Coming out of halftime, Washington committed their fourth turnover after Woods forced Ja’Lynn Polk to fumble. However, the Sun Devils couldn’t capitalize on the field position. Both teams struggled to generate yardage, and ASU had a field goal blocked.

4th Quarter: The Turning Point

In the final quarter, Washington made a strong push, scoring a 47-yard field goal by Grady Gross to make it 7-6 in ASU’s favor. The Sun Devils responded with Bourguet finding Badger for a 34-yard gain, setting up the decisive interception by the Washington defense.


Despite a valiant defensive effort, the Sun Devils fell short in their upset bid against No. 5 Washington. The game showcased the Sun Devil’s defensive prowess, limiting a high-powered Washington offense, and containing Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr. Although the outcome wasn’t in their favor, the Sun Devils showed resilience and determination. With their strong defense, they look forward to future challenges and opportunities for victory in the season ahead.

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