TEMPE, Ariz. - Steam was rising in the Arizona desert, and it had very little to do with the oven-like temperatures of an unseasonably warm Saturday night in October.
It was temperament.
It was the pressure of keeping up in the Pacific-10 Conference.
At the time The Olympian went to press, Washington had just trimmed Arizona State’s lead to 17-14 early in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies’ last score came on Chris Polk’s 23-yard touchdown scamper, bouncing off two Sun Devils’ defenders in the middle of a pile and streaking down the right sideline with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Arizona State had taken a 17-7 lead on Thomas Weber’s 24-yard field goal two minutes earlier.
One of the story lines was the penalties. Eight of the teams’ 19 penalties were either personal-foul or unsportsmanlike conduct infractions through three quarters of play.
For the fourth time this season, the Huskies led off with a touchdown-scoring series – aided by one of a handful of Vontaze Burfict personal-foul penalties.
The UW appeared stopped on third-and-9 when Jake Locker’s pass was deflected – and a near-interception was knocked down by guard Senio Kelemete – at the line of scrimmage. But the first of three Burfict unsportsmanlike infractions gave the Huskies a first down at the ASU 49.
On the next play, Locker sailed a 49-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Devin Aguilar on a crossing route from the right seam, and the UW took a 7-0 advantage.
ASU tied it immediately – in 2:59 – on its first drive, mixing in the short passing game from Danny Sullivan with a little trickery. A 30-yard double-reverse run by receiver T.J. Simpson put the Sun Devils in UW territory, and Sullivan scored four plays later on a 1-yard plunge.
Again, Simpson was in on an ASU gadget play, this time on the opening play of the second quarter, hauling in a 32-yard pass from receiver Kyle Williams in the back of the end zone for a 14-7 Sun Devils’ lead.
After a Locker interception by Ryan McFoy near the ASU goal line thwarted a UW scoring chance on a penalty-filled series, the Sun Devils were knocking on the door again when Sullivan hit Gerrell Robinson on a short screen pass in the left flat.
Robinson broke free and had a crease to the end zone – only to have UW linebacker Mason Foster come over and knock the ball free.
A mad scramble for the ball in the end zone – Nate Fellner jumped on it, but it squirted out – ended when Simpson flew over the top of a pile and knocked it out of the end zone for a touchback at the 6:08 mark of the second quarter.
Bucking the weekly practice trend, UW coach Steve Sarkisian inserted Victor Aiyewa as one of the starting safeties over Fellner, with Nate Williams shifting to free safety. … Receiver Jordan Polk (knee) and defensive end Kalani Aldrich (knee) did not make the trip. … Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck), who came out in the fourth quarter last week against Arizona, was not in pads to start the second half. … Receiver Anthony Boyles saw his first career action on special teams late in the first quarter. … Erik Folk’s string of field goals made was snapped at seven kicks after he missed a 48-yard attempt with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. … UW punter Will Mahan used a rugby-style punt on his first attempt, and booted it 59 yards. … ASU registered an interception for the 15th consecutive game on McFoy’s first-half pick. It’s the NCAA’s longest active streak. … Before Thomas Weber’s miss on a 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter, Washington’s opponents has been 17-of-17 on attempts this season.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442