Ruiz, Wilkins fuel Arizona State past No. 24 Oregon
TEMPE, Ariz. — Freshman Brandon Ruiz was in grade school the last time Arizona State beat Oregon.
His foot ended the 13-year drought Saturday.
Ruiz made a 41-yard field goal with 2:33 remaining and the Sun Devils stopped the No. 24 Ducks on downs twice in the final 69 seconds for a 37-35 victory in the Pac-12 opener for both at Sun Devil Stadium.
“Little freshman, I’m pretty proud of him,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.
Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins passed for 347 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 35 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils’ first victory in the series since Oct. 2, 2004 in Eugene.
Wilkins drove the Sun Devils 57 yards in 11 plays to set up Ruiz’s winning field goal, a drive that included nine rushes and a 10-yard completion to tight end Jalen Harvey on third-and-6 to move the ball into field goal range.
“Guys made big time plays in big time situations,” Wilkins said.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time times. We got out of this one. Now it’s time to go out of the next one. We need to get this (bleep) rolling.”
Arizona State (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) outgained the Ducks in total yards (489-401) and had a 16:12 time of possession edge to end a two-game losing streak and likely end the Ducks’ short stay in the Top 25.
Ruiz, who stands 5 feet 10, made three field goals and is 5 for 7 this season.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns, but was stopped on a 4th-and-3 scramble at midfield with 1:10 remaining.
The Ducks (3-1, 0-1) got the ball back with 46 seconds remaining and got one first down before misfiring on four pass attempts from their 23.
“It was a lack of execution by everybody,” Oregon coach Willie Taggart said. “Coaches, myself included, we didn’t do a good job.”
Herbert’s 4-yard run with 6:41 remaining gave the Ducks a 35-34 advantage, their first lead of the game after Wilkins and Demario Richard scored rushing touchdowns in the first five minutes of the third quarter to make it 31-14.
Wide receiver N’Keal Harry caught seven passes for a career-high 170 yards and a touchdown. His 52-yard reception on third-and-27 pass from Wilkins on the final play of the third quarter set up a Ruiz 24-yard field goal for a 34-28 lead with 13:25 remaining.
“I just see a team that’s hungry,” Wilkins said “When I look in K’Neal’s eyes I see, ‘Throw me the ball.’”
Richard rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown and Harvey had eight receptions for 133 yards.
Oregon halfback Royce Freeman had 81 yards rushing and a touchdown, his 54th, breaking the school record. He was tied with LaMichael James.
The Ducks entered the game averaging 609 yards and 56 points a game. Their total offense ranked No. 2 in the FBS, and their point total was third. They were penalized 14 times for 99 yards.
“The penalties, the dropped balls — it’s hard to get in a rhythm, it’s hard to go fast,” Taggart said.
Arizona State came built a 17-7 lead in the first 13 1/2 minutes.
Wilkins scored on a 5-yard run on the Sun Devils’ first series before Oregon tied it on Herbert’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Dillon Mitchell.
Wilkins took Arizona State 75 yards on the next possession, completing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Harry for a 14-7 lead to cap a 15-play drive.
Arizona State successfully executed an onside kick and turned that into Ruiz’s 29-yard field goal to go ahead 17-7 with 1:30 left in the quarter.
Oregon had one first down on six possessions the rest of the half, but closed the gap to 17-14 on Freeman’s 12-yard touchdown run after Arizona State muffed a punt with 37 seconds left in the half.
NOTES: Arizona State QB Manny Wilkins set the school record for consecutive passes without an interception with his first pass of the game, a seven-yard completion to RB Kalen Ballage that extended his streak to 150 attempts without a pick. Rudy Carpenter had 149 straight in 2005-06. Wilkins extended his streak to 188. ... Oregon entered the AP rankings for the first time last week, the 20th straight season in which they have appeared in the Top 25. ... Arizona State senior LB Koron Crump (knee) did not play after suffering an injury at Texas Tech last week. Crump led the Sun Devils with 12 sacks last season and leads the team with four this year. His return this season is considered questionable.