Arizona State can't stop the run, suffers stunning loss to Eastern Michigan at home
The Sun Devils struggled to contain Eastern Michigan’s ground game Saturday night, dropping their final non-conference game of the season, 30-21 in front of the home crowd.
Eastern Michigan ran all over ASU, to the tune of 305 yards at 6 a carry. Tailback Samson Evans went for 260 yards and two scores himself, breaking tackles and trucking Sun Devil defenders. Eastern Michigan jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead over the Sun Devils and led 17-7 midway through the second quarter.
Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones found Andre Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to get the Sun Devils on the board. The score was set up courtesy of Kejuan Markham’s interception, which was returned deep into Eagles’ territory.
Later, Jones scrambled into the end zone from 3 yards out to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive that brought the Sun Devils within three points with 2:53 to play in the half. Less than two minutes later, Evans was hammering his way into the endzone to put the Eagles back up by 10, 24-14.
With 1:07 to play in the half, Arizona State displayed a shockingly bad two-minute drill. The possession featured a delay of game penalty, an incompletion, two short completions, a false start, and then a punt.
Arizona State made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter after tailback Xazavian Valladay burst through the middle for a 44-yard touchdown run to cut the Eastern Michigan lead to 27-21 with 10 minutes remaining.
It was the fourth touchdown for Valladay this season. He finished with 127 yards on 16 carries, marking the third-straight 100-yard game to begin his Sun Devil career.
Immediately after the Valladay score, though, Arizona State gave up a 10-play, 73-yard drive to Eastern Michigan that bled more than six minutes off the clock. Evans ran it seven straight times to begin the possession, and ASU couldn’t stop him. ASU fumbled the ball away on its final possession, ending a march that reached inside the Eastern Michigan 40.
The loss thrusts the spotlight even further onto coach Herm Edwards, who entered the season firmly on the hotseat. Arizona State shifts to conference play with a 1-2 record and looming dates with No. 14 Utah (Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN), No. 7 USC (Oct. 1). and Washington (Oct. 8).