TEMPE, Ariz. — — DeCarlos Brooks ran for a career-high 67 yards and three touchdowns in his first start of the season and Arizona State broke a six-game losing streak with a 38-27 victory over Washington State on Saturday.
Cameron Skattebo had 121 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Sun Devils (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12), who had a season-high in points and also had season highs with 502 yards total offense and 235 yards rushing.
“This is definitely way different than anything I have done offensively,” Arizona State coach Ken Dillingham said. “But it doesn’t matter. It all comes down to the guys executing. I still think you have to run the football to win in college football. Throwing the ball is fun. It’s exciting. It’s good.
“At the end of the day, you have to be a physical football team. Teams that win championships play physical and they can run the ball. It’s not a magical scheme. The guys just went out there and executed.”
Cameron Ward passed for 315 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores for the Cougars (4-4, 1-4), who have lost four in a row for the first time since 2014.
Ward, who entered the game ranked fifth in the FBS in total offense at 335.4 yards per game and sixth with 316.7 yards passing per game, moved the Cougars to the Arizona State 2-yard with two minutes remaining but threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and Arizona State ran out the clock.
“On offense, they kept us off balance pretty much the whole game,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “We didn’t make enough adjustments to get ahead of them at ball. Disappointing outcome. Disappointing point of the season after starting off 4-0. We need to come back ready to work. We have to keep swinging together.”
Trenton Bourguet passed for 274 yards and wide receiver Elijah Badger ran for a touchdown for the Sun Devils, who had not won since beating FCS Southern Utah 24-21 in the season opener.
“I’m not relieved at all,” Dillingham said. “I’m happy, but it’s still about the process. We are probably four plays away from losing the game, too.”
Brooks, who returned last week against Washington after missing four games with an injury, scored twice in the first half, and Arizona State took a 24-21 lead on Dario Longhetto’s 51-yard field goal as time expired.
Badger and Brooks scored to cap 75-yard drives in the second half for a 38-24 lead. Washington State could only counter with two Dean Janikowski field goals.
“We have so many weapons, and we still have so much more to put out there,” Bourguet said. “This is just one step forward.”
Washington State has not won since a 38-35 victory over then-No. 14 Oregon State in the Pac-12 opener Sept. 23.
“We just have to get back to making routine plays on offense,” Ward said. “Defense has to continue to step up when we need them to. We just didn’t execute the offense … not finishing in the red zone. You can’t win football games with field goals.”
ANOTHER STREAK BROKEN
Arizona State broke an eight-game Pac-12 losing streak with their first win in almost exactly a year, a 42-34 victory over Colorado on Oct. 29, 2022, in which Bourguet threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns.
Washington State: The Cougars have played in a bowl game in the last seven non-COVID-seasons, second only to Utah among Pac-12 schools, and while they have some work to do, the schedule is favorable. The Cougars face Pac-12 second-division teams Stanford, California, and Colorado the next three weeks before closing the regular season against Washington in the Apple Cup in Seattle.
Arizona State: Kenny Dillingham, the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I, has made sound progress with a team that has 78 newcomers and is about as young as he is. The Sun Devils have shown marked improvement in the last month — their previous three losses were by three, three, and eight points, the most recent a 15-7 setback at No. 5 Washington on Oct. 21.
All photos Kevin C. Cox, Maximum Exposure for CORE360 Sports