Sept. 15, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Despite a spirited comeback attempt, the Arizona State University football team dropped its first contest of the season, falling 24-20 to Missouri in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday evening.
Arizona State (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) took advantage of three missed field goals by the Tigers (2-1, 0-1 SEC) to make a game out of things despite being down 17 entering the fourth quarter. Marion Grice had two rushing touchdowns in the final frame and a glorious diving catch for a key third down conversion to help bring ASU within four with 11:10 left in the game.
The ensuing drive saw the Tigers take it down to the Arizona State 31-yard-line with a chance to go up seven but Andrew Baggett missed his third field goal of the game from 48 yards to give Arizona State a chance.
The Sun Devils quickly drove to the MU eight-yard line but back-to-back false starts knocked them back to the 18. A 17-yard pass inside to Jamal Miles put ASU on the one with a chance to put it in from a yard out for the lead, but the Tigers defense held tough and forced a turnover on downs.
ASU had one more chance after forcing Missouri to punt, having 1:58 left to try and for the go-ahead score. Taylor Kelly threw his second interception of the game into the end zone, though, and Kenront Walker returned it 49 yards to seal the game.
The Sun Devils turned the ball over three times and couldn't find their stride on offense until the fourth quarter, finishing with just 296 yards of total offense while going 2-for-12 on third down conversions. ASU had just 174 yards through the first three quarters.
Kelly finished 14-of-23 for 178 yards and a touchdown but had two interceptions and gave up a fumble on the game. Kelly was, however, the teams leading rusher with 59 yards on 15 attempts.
Missouri redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser made his first career start, finishing 21-for-41 for 198 yards and an interception, adding 25 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Missouri took its biggest lead of the game with 4:08 left in the third quarter, taking advantage of good field position after a botched ASU punt that allowed Kendial Lawrence to eventually dive in from a yard out for his second touchdown to put UM up 24-7. That's when the Sun Devils started to mount their comeback.
ASU had a chance to make it a three-point game after Grice's second touchdown but a botched snap on the extra point attempt led to ASU not having a chance to make it 24-21 and forced ASU to have to go for touchdowns in the latter stages of the game.
The Tigers jumped on the Sun Devils early, taking advantage of ASU's first defensive penalty of the year - a personal foul on Chris Young - to sustain their opening drive and eventually put themselves in range for a 46-yard field goal from Andrew Baggett to go ahead 3-0 early in the first.
The teams exchanged punts at that point, but a Miles fumble on his first punt return of the evening gave the Tigers possession deep in Arizona State territory. The Tigers would drive 18 yards to the end zone, capped off by a six-yard rush by Berkstresser to put Missouri up 10-0.
On ASU's ensuing possession, Kelly threw his first interception of the season to give the ball back to Missouri in ASU territory. The defense was able to hold, however, leading to an eventual missed field goal from 45 yards by Baggett to keep the score static.
A long punt return from E.J. Gaines in the second quarter off a reverse put Missouri deep in ASU territory once again and the Tigers took just four plays to put it in the end zone on a seven-yard rush by Lawrence to put the Tigers up 17-0 with 4:51 to play in the half.
The ASU offense found its footing on the following drive as Kelly completed 4-of-4 passes for 56 yards, capped by a short pass to D.J. Foster that the true freshman took 33 yards to the house to bring ASU back within 10.
Prior to the scoring drive, the ASU offense had mustered just 27 yards of offense in the half. The Sun Devil defense did its best to overcome the offensive struggles. Brandon Magee and Alden Darby each logged 12 tackles on the game - a career best for Darby and one shy of Magee's best. Magee also snatched his second interception of the year in the first half, ended another Tigers drive and keeping the team in the game early on.
The Sun Devils return to action next weekend as the team heads back home to take on Utah in its Pac-12 schedule opener. The schedule kickoff is 7 p.m. PST and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. The evening will mark ASU's Hall of Fame weekend as well.