ASU Vs. UCLA: Penalties ultimately were cause for Sun Devil loss

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

ASU only was flagged four times, but two of them were killer.

If you are a Sun Devil fan, Saturday was excruciating. It was the worst way to lose a game. ASU drove down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown with a minute and a half left in the game, only allow UCLA to march down the field and kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.

It was a frustrating game to watch. If you look at the box score, ASU should have won. They had more passing yards and rushing yards. They were penalized less. They had less turnovers. The won time of possession.

What went wrong for ASU? It was something that head coach Todd Graham absolutely hates -- penalties.

ASU was penalized only four times for 36 yards, but two of them cost ASU the game.

Both happened in the first quarter.

Both of UCLA's first quarter touchdown drives would have ended without points were it not because of penalties.

In their first drive, still in their own territory, on third and two, ASU was flagged for being offsides, giving UCLA the first down. The result of the play was an incomplete pass. No penalty, no first down and a punt. Instead, the drive continued and they scored to make the score 14-7.

On their next offensive possession, the Bruins had gotten near midfield. It was third down and Brett Hundley threw an incomplete pass that would have led to a punt again. However, Junior Onyeali knocked Hundley down after he threw the ball and was flagged for roughing the passer. It was a borderline call, but it was after the throw, he could have avoided the contact and, here's the kicker, on the play previous he and one of the officials exchanged words after he got to the quarterback as the ball was thrown. It looked like a warning from the official to watch it, and then he went and took a questionable shot on the very next play.

The penalty kept the drive alive and four plays later, the Bruins tied the score.

If ASU does not commit one of those two penalties, UCLA does not score one of their touchdowns. That was the difference in the game.

Todd Graham has been beating the drum of discipline on the field since Day 1. The team is much, much better about penalties. However, in a game where they should have won by double digits, two untimely penalties eventually led to a last second defeat.

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