Fresno State left an indelible mark on Arizona State, with a 29-0 shutout victory over the Sun Devils in Tempe.

Early Offensive Surge

The Bulldogs wasted no time establishing their presence on the field, seizing an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Mikey Keene, the Fresno State quarterback, executed with precision, going 14-for-14 for 129 yards in the opening quarter alone. Keene’s remarkable accuracy set the tone for the game, as he orchestrated a successful scoring drive on the opening possession. His connection with Moss on a 19-yard post route sliced through the Sun Devil secondary, putting Fresno State on the scoreboard.

“Every week there are things to get better at,” said Bulldogs head coach Jeff Tedford of his Bulldogs offense. “Our red zone offense isn’t as good as it needs to be. We need to score touchdowns instead of field goals. I thought Dylan Lynch did a good job tonight, but we need to score touchdowns. That’s what these early games in the season are all about, learning and making mistakes. Thankfully we won the game. I’m proud of our team for going on the road, focusing on what needed to get done and executing.”

Arizona State’s starting quarterback, Trenton Bourguet, saw limited action, throwing just one pass attempt before Carlton Johnson intercepted his second pass, marking his first interception of the season. Although Keene continued to move the Bulldog offense effectively, they settled for a 39-yard field goal by Dylan Lynch, extending their lead to 10-0 with 5:50 remaining in the first quarter.

Relentless Bulldog Defense

The Bulldog defense mirrored the efficiency of their offense, racking up turnovers and stifling the Sun Devil’s offensive efforts. Morice Norris Jr. delivered a crucial blow to ASU’s quarterback Drew Pyne, sacking him and forcing a fumble that was swiftly recovered by Kemari Munier-Bailey at the Fresno State 32-yard line. Capitalizing on this turnover, Lynch added a 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter, pushing the Bulldogs ahead 13-0.

Munier-Bailey continued to apply pressure to the Sun Devil offense, forcing yet another turnover on their next play. Jacob Holmes seized the opportunity, recovering the ball at the ASU 13-yard line. Lynch, the reliable kicker, connected from 29 yards out, further extending Fresno State’s lead to 16-0 with 10:25 remaining in the second quarter.

Sun Devils’ Defensive Stand

Despite the mounting pressure from Fresno State, Arizona State managed to gain some momentum. Utilizing a series of chunk yardage plays, they found themselves deep in Bulldog territory. The Bulldog defense, however, held firm and prevented ASU from reaching the scoreboard. In a pivotal moment, the Sun Devils had a 1st-and-goal opportunity from the 3-yard line, but the ‘Dogs forced a turnover on downs on fourth-and-1.

Fresno State would punt for the first time in the game with a mere 24 seconds left in the second quarter. However, the Bulldog offense quickly returned to the field as Johnson intercepted his second pass of the night, this time from Pyne. Despite the opportunity to add more points, Lynch’s 53-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left, preserving Fresno State’s 16-point lead heading into halftime.

Second Half Dominance

The Bulldogs’ defense continued their relentless pursuit of turnovers in the second half. They forced a three-and-out on the Sun Devils’ opening drive, setting the stage for another Fresno State offensive surge. It took just five plays before Keene connected with Jaelen Gill on a 42-yard touchdown pass, demonstrating Gill’s one-on-one prowess against the Sun Devil defender and extending Fresno State’s lead to 23-0.

“It doesn’t matter to me how many yards or touchdowns that I get, as long as we get the win and I’m doing my job, that’s what matters to me,” said Fresno State red-shirt sophomore quarterback Mikey Keene.

Cam Lockridge added to the turnover tally, intercepting Pyne and returning the ball 23 yards on the next Sun Devil drive. This turnover put the Bulldogs back in control on offense. Lynch, who had been consistently reliable throughout the game, hit a 50-yard field goal to close out the third quarter with Fresno State firmly ahead at 26-0.

Historic Shutout

The Bulldog defense remained a formidable force in the final quarter. Johnson sealed the game with his third interception of the night, marking his third different Sun Devil quarterback victim. This final turnover, a pickoff from Jacob Conover at the ASU 15-yard-line, symbolized the relentless pursuit of perfection by Fresno State’s defense, who ended the night with seven turnovers forced.

With 14:31 remaining in the game, Lynch connected on his fifth-made field goal from 33 yards out, tying the program record for most made field goals in a single game. The Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive prowess were on full display, culminating in an extraordinary victory.

Al’zillion Hamilton got his hands on an Arizona State pass attempt, recording the Bulldogs’ fifth interception of the night, solidifying the shutout victory over the Sun Devils. This remarkable defensive showcase left the Sun Devils stunned and searching for answers.

Historical Implications

The defeat held historical significance for the Sun Devils, as they suffered their first shutout at home since November 12, 1988, when they were routed 50-0 by USC. Arizona State’s inability to score points in recent games has been a concerning trend, with their last score being a 65-yard touchdown pass from Elijhah Badger to Jaden Rashada against Oklahoma State in Week 2.

Kenny Dillingham, in his first year as ASU’s head coach, faced numerous challenges throughout the game. The Sun Devils deployed three quarterbacks against Fresno State, with Jacob Conover seeing substantial action following injuries to Trenton Bourguet and Drew Pyne. Jaden Rashada, the starting quarterback in the first two games, was sidelined due to injury.

ASU’s struggles to protect the ball were evident, as they ended the game with a staggering eight turnovers. Pyne lost two fumbles and had two passes intercepted, Conover contributed with two interceptions, and Bourguet had a pass intercepted. Even running back Tevin White lost a fumble, compounding the Sun Devils’ offensive woes.

On the offensive front, Arizona State was out-gained, amassing 230 yards compared to Fresno State’s 350. Their rushing game was virtually nonexistent, gaining a mere 42 yards on the ground. Fresno State also controlled the time of possession, holding a significant advantage with 37 minutes and 6 seconds compared to ASU’s 22 minutes and 54 seconds.

Fresno State’s Remarkable Streak

The Bulldogs’ victory propelled them to a 3-0 record for the season, further solidifying their dominance. Impressively, they extended their winning streak to 12 consecutive games, making them the second-longest winning streak in the nation, trailing only Georgia.

Arizona State, on the other hand, fell to a 1-2 record with this loss. Their path ahead appears challenging, as they are set to host USC in their next matchup.

Mikey Keene, a Chandler High product like ASU’s Jacob Conover, delivered a commendable performance, going 32-for-49 for 281 yards and two touchdowns in the game. His consistency and poise played a pivotal role in Fresno State’s offensive success.

Coaches’ Reactions

Bulldogs’ head coach Jeff Tedford expressed pride in his team’s performance, particularly their ability to keep the Sun Devils out of the end zone and force numerous turnovers. He lauded the defense’s intensity. “I thought the defense played excellent,” said Tedford. “They put pressure on the passer, they were ballhawks and caused fumbles. I am proud of them.”


All photos copyright Kevin C. Cox, Maximum Exposure Photography for CORE360 Sports

2023 Fresno St - Arizona St