TEMPE, Ariz. - First time on the road equaled the first loss of the Gary Andersen era for the University of Wisconsin, and it came with controversy.
No.20 Wisconsin was in prime position to kick the game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left from the 15, but the coaching staff decided to run a play to get the ball between the hashes for struggling kicker Kyle French. The result was disastrous.
With UW having no timeouts left combined with the game officials slow response to spot the football, the Badgers watched helplessly as the play clock expired and allow Arizona State to escape with a 32-30 victory Saturday night in front of 66,155 fans.
Sophomore tailback Melvin Gordon led Wisconsin (2-1) with 193 rushing yards on just 15 carries and two scores, including an 80-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play of the second half to extend the lead to 21-13.
That helped take some pressure off Wisconsin, who led 14-13 at halftime despite only gaining 101 yards of total offense and getting a big boost from Arizona State’s special teams flub, as a low snap on a punt resulted in a 32-yard loss and a fumble recovery by senior Beau Allen in the end zone.
But Wisconsin’s secondary wilted in the second half, allowing quarterback Taylor Kelly to pick them apart with the back-shoulder throws to move the Sun Devils down the field and into scoring position.
Tailback Marion Grice was the big benefactor of that offense, as he rushed for four touchdowns and 84 yards for the Sun Devils (2-0).
Wisconsin made it interesting late, thanks to a fake punt, when Melvin Gordon brought Wisconsin within two with 3:53 remaining, but the Badgers failed on the two-point conversation attempt.
Wisconsin’s defense was able to get the ball back to the offense with 1:36 remaining and no timeouts, setting up the wild, questionable finish.
Kelly won the battle of the quarterbacks, throwing for 352 yards on 29 of 52 passing. Stave finished 187 passing yards on 15 of 30 passing, but was 4-for-6 for 70 yards on the final drive.
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Game recap: Wisconsin almost salvages mistake-filled performance until officiating error took it away
Examining the Final Play that Cost Wisconsin
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Arizona State 32, No.20 Wisconsin 30
3-0 Arizona State
8 plays, 34 yards, 2:50 TOP, 4:08 left
FG Zane Gonzales 34
Key Play: On third-and-9 at midfield, a run play came right at Chris Borland, but the senior linebacker couldn't make the tackle, which resulted in an 18-yard gain and a first down.
10 plays, 73 yards, 5:14 TOP, 13:47 left
Jacob Pedersen 2-yard pass from Joel Stave (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: Stave looked all but sacked on third-and-8 near midfield, but the sophomore quarterback did his best Brett Favre impersonation and shoveled the ball forward to Jordan Fredrick before being taken down to the turf. The result was a 10-yard gain that extended the drive.
Beau Allen 0-yard fumble recovery (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: An incredibly low punt by Easton Wahlstrom got under the hands of Dom Vizzare and bounced 32 yards backwards to ASU's 1. Vizzare tried to pick up the ball to kick, but Chris Borland laid a hit on him and Allen recovered the ball on the goal line.
10 plays, 75 yards, 3:32 TOP 9:21 left
Marion Grice 1-yard run (Zane Gonzalez kick)
Key Play: After the last three drives for arizona State's offense went for a combined 10 yards, quarterback Taylor Kelly rolled ASU back to life by going 5-for-5 for 60 yards, including a 20-yard pass to Grice down to the UW 3.
13 plays, 94 yards, 4:56 TOP :29 left
FG Zane Gonzalez 19.
Key Play: Arizona State narrowly got in the end zone on second down, getting the ball spotted at the one foot line. That proved fortunate for UW, as senior Beau Allen and Pat Muldoon stuffed Marion Grice for a 1-yard loss on third-and-short.
1 play, 80 yards, 4:56 TOP, 14:42 left
Melvin Gordon 80-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: Brian Wozniak and Jacob Pedersen laid the initial blocks on the edges and Jared Abbrederis neutralized the cornerback, allowing Gordon to go untouched.
11 plays, 91 yards, 4:20 TOP, :47 left
Marion Grice 1-yard run (pass failed)
Key Play: Arizona State overloaded the right side of the offense and Wisconsin didn't have enough DBs to cover. When Southward stuck with the flat, thinking he had help over top, Kevin Ozier caught a wide-open pass for 34 yards down to the 14.
6 plays, 59 yards, 1:17 TOP, 13:30 left
FG Kyle French 34
Key Play: Gordon continues to be Wisconsin's offense biggest weapon against the Sun Devils' defense, as MG3 runs for 35 yards on the first play of the drive to get UW to the ASU 40.
25-24 Arizona State
8 plays, 76 yards, 1:41 TOP, 11:40 left
Marion Grice 2-yard run (pass failed)
Key Play: Back-to-back back-shoulder throws from Taylor Kelly to Jaelen Strong, with Darius Hillary trying to defend, got Arizona State's offense moving with 19-yard and 24-yard gains.
32-24 Arizona State
6 plays, 60 yards, 1:25 TOP, 8:50 left
Marion Grice 12-yard run (Zane Gonzalez kick)
Key Play: Three words: back, shoulder, throw. Wisconsin's secondary can't defend it and Taylor Kelly keeps throwing it, including the 20-yard throw that got ASU to the UW 12.
32-30 Arizona State
11 plays, 75 yards, 4:57 TOP, 3:53 left
Melvin Gordon 2-yard run (pass failed)
Key Play: UW looked terrible on a series that appeared to be a three-and-out, but the Badgers dialed up a successful fake on their own 30, as Chris Borland completed a 23-yard pass to Jacob Pedersen to the ASU 47.
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