by Travis Breedlove, ASU Sports Information
Arizona State (4-2,1-0) was riding a four game winning streak going into their final non-conference game against the visiting Tar Heels from the University of North Carolina (2-3). After posting impressive numbers against Stanford a week earlier, the Sun Devils hoped to build on that momentum against the Tar Heels. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter had a career night again for the second straight week going 27 of 45 for 474 yards, but was unable to lead the Devils to another victory as they fell to North Carolina 35-38 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Some costly turnovers and missed field goals would be the deciding factors in the final outcome of the game as UNC quarterback Darian Durant set a school record for yards in a game with 417 passing yards and five touchdowns. "We had a little luck on our side with turnovers and missed field goals, and we made our field goals and that was the difference," UNC head coach John Bunting said referring to the win.
Arizona State would receive the ball to start out the game and the passing attack would start where it left off last week, on a 13-yard strike to Shaun McDonald from Andrew Walter. The pass reception gave McDonald 2,003 yards receiving for his career, being only the sixth Sun Devil to achieve the milestone. The Sun Devils would continue to move the ball down the field getting four first downs, however the drive would stall at the North Carolina 11-yard line. Senior place kicker Mike Barth came in for a 27-yard field goal to try and put ASU on the scoreboard first, but the kick would be wide to the left giving the ball to the Tar Heels at their own 20-yard line.
UNC would struggle on their first offensive series as Junior defensive end Terrell Suggs would help stop them and in the process move up the career list for sacks to second. Darian Durant would complete a critical 19-yard pass for a first down to wideout Chesley Borders on third and 16. The following play Suggs would sack Durant moving him into second place all time in the career sacks list. The Tar Heels offense would be stopped on downs and forced to punt the ball to ASU.
On their second possession of the game the Sun Devils faced third and 10 from their own 40-yard line. Then Andrew Walter found wide receiver Skyler Fulton, five catches for a career high 122 yards, for a 38-yard pass to the North Carolina 22-yard line. Cornell Canidate would come in to carry the ball, but a Tar Heel defender forced him to fumble. The ball was recovered by UNC at the 18-yard line and ended the ASU scoring threat.
North Carolina would take possession, and advantage of the turnover, marching 82-yards down the field in seven plays to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard. The key play in the series was a Durant to Blizzard 54-yard completion that would later set up a Durant to Borders 11-yard touchdown. Borders had only eight receptions coming into the game, but was able to make nine catches against the Sun Devils defense on the night for 192 yards and four touchdowns. "They tease me a lot about my number of catches. When It was my turn to get into the end zone, I got the job done," Borders replied about his night. Orner would add the extra point to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Tar Heels.
The score would not phase the Sun Devil offense as they again pushed the ball down the field 60 yards getting into the red-zone for the third time in as many tries. Unfortunately, the result was the same as the prior two attempts. A Barth 36-yard field goal attempt would hit the right upright leaving the Sun Devils scoreless and 0-for-3 in the red-zone for the night thus far.
The Tar Heels would get the ball at their own 20-yard line, but the Sun Devil defense would not give them any ground to move the ball. After two failed attempts to get a first down a critical Ricardo Stewart interception would give the Devils the ball back in UNC territory.
ASU began their final drive of the first quarter at the North Carolina 25-yard line. After offsetting penalties Walter would find Shaun McDonald for a 23-yard reception to close out the first quarter. As the second quarter started the Sun Devils would get their first points of the game on a Mike Williams two-yard carry for a touchdown. Barth would hit the extra point tying the score at 7-7.
UNC's offense would be stuck on their next possession thanks to a three-yard loss courtesy of a Mason Unck stop on UNC running back Willie Parker. The Tar Heels would be forced to punt the ball away after their third down pass from Durant fell incomplete.
Starting with a short field in UNC territory the Sun Devils looked to capitalize. Walter's first two passes fell incomplete, but on third and 10 McDonald would again be the recipient of a 24-yard catch to the UNC 19-yard line. Two plays later Cornell Canidate would carry it 11-yards for another ASU touchdown. After another successful Barth extra point ASU would lead 14-7.
The teams would trade punts twice before North Carolina would get a chance to tie the score.
Tim Parker pinned UNC down with a 49-yard punt and the coverage unit yielded only five yards on the return putting the ball at the 20-yard line, however, an illegal block by UNC moved the ball back to the 10-yard line. The Tar Heels would shrug off the poor field position and drive 90-yards in 12 plays eating up just over four minutes on the clock to tie the score at 14-14. The defense had UNC stopped on third and 17 before a pass interference penalty would give them a first down and keep their drive alive. UNC would continue moving the ball with successful 11 and 13 -yard strikes from Durant getting to the ASU 47-yard line. Facing a third and six from the Devils' 31-yard line, Durant would find Borders for a UNC touchdown. Orner would hit the extra point and the score would be tied at 14-14.
The Sun Devils looked to get the momentum on their side as the clocked ticked down in the second quarter. Walter would find Skyler Fulton for 27-yards then Daryl Lightfoot for 18-yards putting ASU at the North Carolina 35-yard line and just over a minute to play in the half. Mike Williams would carry the ball for 12 yards and four yards before Mike Barth would come out to attempt a 36-yard field goal. Barth's kick would miss wide left and left the score tied at 14-14 going into half time. "Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine Mike Barth having a night like he did because Mike Barth is just nails in practice," Sun Devil head coach Dirk Koetter said.
North Carolina would get the ball first in the third quarter, but failed to get more then four yards in the possession. However, the Tar Heels would get a second try at moving the ball as Daryl Lightfoot would fumble the ensuing punt from UNC kicker John Lafferty and have it recovered by Tar Heel defender DeFonte Coleman.
North Carolina would start at the Arizona State 43-yard line and immediately complete a 20-yard Durant to Aiken pass to the ASU 23. With UNC going for the end zone on third and 18 Josh Golden would step in front of the Durant pass at the Sun Devil two-yard line returning it 29-yards and more importantly holding the score at 14 apiece.
ASU would attempt to put pressure on the Tar Heels defense when Mike Williams came in for the injured Cornell Canidate to carry the ball for eight-yards. Then Hakim Hill would rush for four more yards before the Sun Devils would turn the ball over to the Tar Heels. Andrew Walter, under pressure, was hit by UNC defensive tackle Will Chapman forcing the ball free to be recovered by the UNC defense.
North Carolina would again get points off a Sun Devil turnover while working with a short field. Luckily for the Sun Devils it was only a Orner field goal bringing the score to 17-14 in favor of the Tar Heels.
The Sun Devils did not flinch, after the two teams traded punts, ASU would drive it 61-yards, highlighted by a Mike Williams 19-yard run for a touchdown to put the Sun Devil back on top. Barth would continue his string of extra point successes making the score 21-17 in favor of the Devils.
The game soon became a shootout as the two teams traded points and possession. UNC would take the next possession 71-yards to score again and reclaim the lead over the home team. The drive was aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty on ASU advancing UNC from the 43-yard line to the 28-yard line. Chesley Borders added to his career totals catching another Durant pass for 28-yards and a Tar Heels touchdown. Orner would add the extra point making the score 24-21 for the boys from Chapel Hill.
Unfazed, ASU would take nine plays and 80-yards to get the ball back down the field and into the end zone. Using quick strikes of 10 to 15 yards ASU pushed the UNC defense to the one-yard line. Hakim Hill would rush for the next Sun Devils' score. With the added extra point the score would favor the men in Maroon and Gold 28-24.
After getting the ball punted back to them and holding the UNC offense the Sun Devils hopped to add to their lead. Getting the ball to the North Carolina 29-yard line with rushes from Hakim Hill and Mike Williams gave ASU another opportunity to score. Andrew Walter would get his next pass intercepted in the end zone by UNC defender Waddell to end the threat.
North Carolina continued its trend of capitalizing on ASU turnovers when Durant found Pollock for 65-yards and a Tar Heels touchdown giving the lead back to UNC. Orner would add the extra point to make the score 31-28.
The scoring frenzy continued on ASU's next possession as Andrew Walter would lead the Sun Devils down the field 90-yards to take the lead again. Walter would find Fulton for 13-yards, then Lightfoot for 19-yards to move the ball to the ASU 23-yard line. Finally, Walter would again find Skyler Fulton with a 39-yard pass completion to the UNC 26-yard line. Three plays later Hakim Hill would get his second touchdown of the game getting into the end zone from three yards out and putting the Devils back on top. With his 28th consecutive extra point this season Mike Barth made the score 35-31 in ASU's favor.
It would take North Carolina only four plays and 1:14 to regain the lead as Durant found Borders for his fourth touchdown on the night. The final one being a 74-yard catch for a score. Orner would add the extra point giving UNC the lead 38-35.
ASU would still have a shot at winning or tying the game with 2:39 left on the game clock. Hakim Hill would return the kickoff 37-yards to give ASU great field position. Andrew Walter would find Hill for 26-yards putting the ball on the UNC 33-yard line. However, the offense failed to move the ball from there. Mike Barth would come in to attempt a 49-yard field goal to tie the game. Barth hit the ball, but it missed going wide left and allowing UNC to maintain their lead.
The Sun Devil defense would hold UNC giving their offense one last chance with 0:53 remaining on the clock.
The chance to come from behind to win was lost when Walter's pass was intercepted by UNC defender Knight with only 0:25 left on the clock.
"We had opportunities throughout the game," said coach Dirk Koetter. "We didn't finish drives."
"We have to play well enough to finish drive," quarterback Andrew Walter said. "There's no excuse, obviously, there's stuff that needs to be cleaned up."
GAME NOTES: Junior wide receiver Shaun McDonald passed 2,000 career yards when he caught a 13-yard pass from Andrew Walter on the opening play of the game giving him 2,003 yards in his career. Currently McDonald's career totals put him in sixth all time at 2,146 yards for his career, just two shy of John Mistler (1977-80)...Sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter upped his career best from on week ago with 474 yards, tied for fourth most in a single game in ASU history. Walter shares the mark with Paul Justin (vs. Houston 1990)...Skyler Fulton has a career night, making five receptions for 122 yards...Mike Barth kept his point after touchdown streak alive as he converted all five of his tries for the Sun Devils to remain a perfect 28-of-28 on the season...Ricardo Stewart's interception in the first quarter off Darian Durant gave ASU 10 picks on the year, surpassing the nine the team pulled down all of last year. Josh Golden also picked off a Durant pass in the third quarter giving the team 11 picks on the year...The loss to North Carolina dropped the Sun Devils' record against ACC opponents to 3-6 overall. The last win was in 1971 when the Sun Devils beat Florida State 45-38 in the Fiesta Bowl...Barth's missed field goal on ASU's first drive was the first time in the Sun Devils last 10 times in the red zone without scoring...North Carolina's touchdown in the first quarter made the visitors the fifth of Arizona State's six opponents this year to score the first points in the game. The Sun Devils posted the first points in the Eastern Washington game...Terrell Suggs climbed one spot in two career defensive categories on Arizona State's fist defensive series of the game. Suggs sacked starting quarterback Darian Durant to record the 29th of his career and move into sole possession of second all-time, breaking his tie with Vernon Maxwell (1979-82). In the same series, Suggs also brought down Jacque Lewis for a loss to bring his career total of tackles for loss to 53.5, the firth-most in ASU history. Suggs finished the game with four sacks and four and a half tackles for loss, bringing his career marks to 32 sacks and 57 tackles for loss, tied for the second-most in ASU history with Shante Carver (1990-93) and Al Harris (1976-79).