Arizona State breathed a heavy sigh of relief Saturday night as the horn sounded giving the Sun Devils a controversial 32-30 victory over 20th ranked Wisconsin in Tempe.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave attempted to down the ball and set up a field goal attempt but caused a great deal of confusion for the referees. In his haste, Stave never touched his knee to the turf before leaving the ball on the spot. Arizona State linebacker Anthony Jones dove on the ball recovering the fumble. Only officials did not rule it a fumble giving the ball back to the Wisconsin offense as the clock continued to tick. Time expired before the Badgers were able to get off another play to stop the clock.
“We just jumped on it and I guess time ran out so we won,” said ASU safety Alden Darby. “I was confused back there.” There certainly was enough confusion to go around and even more disappointment on the visitor’s side line.
“It is a shame that it went down that way,” said Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen. "It hurts. It’s a close game. The senior class will have a hard time absorbing that. We will get on the plane and take some deep breaths and get ready for the Big Ten.
The real key to the game happened 2 minutes earlier than the last play of the game. After Melvin Gordon’s 1 yard touchdown run, Wisconsin opted for the game-tying two-point conversion. Instead of going back to Gordon, who had rushed for 193 yards on 15 carries, Stave dropped back to pass. Red shirt freshman Salamo Fiso came up with a huge play off the edge hitting Stave from behind and causing the pass to wobble to the ground.
Despite losing the turnover battle 2-0, the Sun Devils stayed in the game long enough to see the momentum shift in their favor. “When adversity struck, we were prepared for that,” said Darby. “We practiced situations like that. We just all pulled together. Nobody had their head held down. We were down and we still expected to win.”
ASU grabbed a one-point lead on a Marion Grice 2 yard run, turned to their defense who gave the offense the ball back in less than 2 minutes after forcing Wisconsin to a 3-and-out series. A minute and a half and sixty yards later Grice had his fourth score a game winning touchdown.
The win gives the Sun Devils a 3-1 lead in the series against the Badgers and a 16-7 all-time record against the Big Ten Conference.
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