Arizona State tops UC Davis 48-14

  • Associated Press
  • Thursday, September 1, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. — Brock Osweiler walked into Sun Devil Stadium pumping his fists at the student section, pointed to someone in the crowd, then enthusiastically clapped his hands as he made his way to the sideline.

His night ended with a bit of disappointment, thanks to some pesky leg cramp

s, but this would certainly have to go down as a successful debut.

Poised and accurate in his first home start, Osweiler efficiently guided Arizona State’s offense, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Aaron Pflugrad before limping off in the third quarter of the Sun Devils’ season-opening 48-14 win over UC Davis on a steamy Thursday night.

“For the first night, I was happy with it,” Osweiler said. “I’ve just got to be better with my hydration during the week.”

The seventh-string quarterback when he arrived in Tempe two years ago, Osweiler opened his first home start on a big connection with to Cameron Marshall and ended up with 262 yards on 19-of-26 passing. The 6-foot-8 junior hit Pflugrad on a 31-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and on a 13-yarder midway through the third quarter before going down in pain.

Osweiler had trouble with cramps the previous drive and kept playing, but didn’t come back this time, walking stiff-legged to the sideline to prevent his calf from tightening up.

His work was pretty much done by that point anyway, so there was no reason to get discouraged by his premature exit.

“He did what he should have done in this game, to be honest with you,” Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said.

So did the rest of the Sun Devils, at least until late.

Marshall scored on a pair of 2-yard runs in the opening quarter to get Arizona State off to fast start and Jamal Miles made it a runaway by opening the second half with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Arizona State rolled up 517 total yards and dominated the FCS Aggies for the first three quarters (minus-4 yards rushing) before giving up a couple of late scores.

Good, not great, but at least some kind of momentum heading into next week’s game against No. 21 Missouri.

“I thought we did some good things and some bad things,” Erickson said. “It was OK. We’ve got to play better than that next week against Missouri if we’re going to win that football game, but there were some good things.”

With new pitchforked logos on its helmets and speed everywhere, Arizona State headed into the season with high expectations. Not the we-can-have-a-winning-record kind, either. The Sun Devils have a legitimate belief they can get to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship, maybe earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Coming off three bowl-less seasons, Arizona State returned 20 starters, including high-energy junior Vontaze Burfict, one of the nation’s best linebackers, and Osweiler, who played the final two games a year ago.

There were some bumps before the season, though.

Starting cornerback Omar Bolden tore his ACL in spring practice, linebacker Brandon Magee blew out his Achilles’ tendon in the preseason and running back Deantre Lewis, the second-leading rusher a year ago, still hasn’t returned after being hit in the leg in a random shooting in February.

Even with the losses, the Sun Devils were expected to be among the elite teams in the new Pac-12.

They certainly looked good early against UC Davis, racing over UC Davis in a brutally hot night — 104 degrees at kickoff with a wind that made it feel like a blow torch outside — to prevent the Aggies from having any hope of repeating their win over Stanford in 2005.

“We knew going in that they were pretty athletic, they like to get the ball on the perimeter,” UC Davis coach Bob Biggs said. “We missed some tackles. I think when we go back and watch the film, we missed some tackles and some opportunities.”

Osweiler opened by hitting Marshall on a swing pass that went for 47 yards on Arizona State’s first play, and Marshall punched it in from 2 yards out two plays later. Time of drive: 62 seconds.

Next drive, set up by Tom Hemmingsen’s muffed punt, took 69 seconds, capped by another 2-yard run by Marshall.

Osweiler got his first TD pass of the season on the first play of the second quarter, hitting Pflugrad on a 31-yard post. That drive took a little longer: 77 seconds.

Arizona State’s offense bogged down after that, hurt by Rashad Ross’ fumble, a turnover on downs and a couple of momentum-killing penalties. Alex Garoutte finished the half off nicely, though, hitting a 49-yard field goal, then Miles took the second-half kickoff for a zigzagging touchdown romp to make it 31-0.

UC Davis did at least fight back.

Fullback Nick Aprile broke up the middle for a 48-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and Josh Reese added a 1-yarder midway through, but by then it was far too late for the Aggies.

“Our coaches have taught us to play hard and keep fighting, because Arizona State is a physical team with big receivers, so we couldn’t back down,” UC Davis cornerback Jonathan Calhoun said.

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