TEMPE, Ariz. — Flags were flying throughout Saturday’s first half, and one of them caused Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson to fly off the handle.
Sixteen penalties were called during the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game between Washington and ASU, including six personal fouls.
The most controversial one came on a pass interference call that went against ASU cornerback Pierre Singfield, sending Erickson into such a frenzy that he appeared to make contact with side judge Nardy Samuels. Erickson ran out onto the field to confront Samuels, who used a forearm to push Erickson away. Several ASU assistants rushed in to pull Erickson back to the sideline, and no further penalty was called.
The call, which Erickson disputed because it looked like UW receiver James Johnson was the one who initiated contact with Singfield, gave the Huskies 15 yards and a first down at the Sun Devils’ 22 yard-line. But an interception ended that drive shortly thereafter.
One snap before Singfield’s interference call, ASU teammate Vontaze Burfict got flagged for his third personal-foul penalty of the first half when he drilled UW receiver Devin Aguilar with his helmet.
The drive included four defensive penalties for 55 yards: two Burfict personal fouls, the Singfield pass interference, and a facemask call on ASU lineman William Sutton that wiped out a Burfict interception. Fortunately for the Sun Devils, the Huskies threw another goal-line interception one play later after snapping the ball at the ASU 10.
Personal-foul penalties directly led to touchdowns on each of the game’s first two drives.
The Huskies’ opening possession appeared to stall out at the UW 36-yard line, but Jake Locker’s incomplete pass on third down was wiped out because of a late flag. After Locker’s pass was batted into the air and eventually fell to the turf, Burfict drilled Locker in the back. The 15-yard penalty gave UW an automatic first down, and, with Burfict on the sideline after temporarily getting pulled, Locker hit Devin Aguilar for a 49-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
The Huskies’ defense got its own 15-yard penalty on the next drive, when safety Victor Aiyewa was flagged for a facemask at the end of a long run on a reverse by ASU receiver T.J. Simpson. That gave the Sun Devils possession at the Husky 12-yard line, and they scored four plays later.
ASU’s Burfict, a star freshman, was called for another personal foul early in the second quarter, when he hit Huskies lineman Ryan Tolar after the whistle.
The second half began with more of the same when the Huskies were called for two personal fouls on one play early in the second quarter. One of them went against defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who was arguing a call against linebacker Mason Foster for a late hit.
Burfict narrowly avoided a fourth personal foul, and probable ejection, when he hit Johnson with a forearm as both teams jogged off the field following a third-quarter touchdown from the Huskies’ Chris Polk. Officials did not see the forearm, despite pleas from Johnson and the UW sideline. Burfict appeared to be benched shortly thereafter.
“I was trying to figure out why that wasn’t a penalty,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said afterward of the forearm blow that didn’t get called. “I didn’t quite get an explanation.”
Burfict was the source of controversy throughout the night.
“We knew from the get-go that he was a hothead,” said the Huskies’ Aguilar, who had career highs of seven receptions and 154 yards Saturday. “But we didn’t worry about him.”
Added running back Chris Polk: “He was yapping at the mouth, but you couldn’t pay attention. … He showed on film that he was a real hothead and he did stupid things.”
That was the case Saturday night, leaving Erickson a bit disappointed in his star freshman.
“Vontaze has to learn to control his emotions,” he said after the game. “… When he plays, he has a light that goes on.”
For the game, the two teams combined for 21 penalties, including nine personal fouls.