N'keal Harry

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No. 21 USC leads Arizona State at halftime despite Sun Devils’ whacky Hail Mary

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No. 21 USC has been struggling on the offensive end the past few weeks. Arizona State has been stingy on the defensive side. Naturally, the two decided to do a body switch on Halloween weekend. As a result, the Trojans did almost whatever they wanted down in the desert, taking a 31-10 lead into halftime in a huge Pac-12 South battle few could have seen coming a few weeks ago.

The cardinal and gold offensive explosion not surprisingly came at the hands of quarterback Sam Darnold, who had one of his best outings in weeks by throwing for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Looking a lot more like that top draft many touted him to be early in the year, he also added a career-long 39 yard run to boot. Running back Ronald Jones chipped in with a 67 yard touchdown run on his way to a 120 yard effort through two quarters.

On the receiving end of many of those Darnold passes was receiver Tyler Vaughns. The young wide out has steadily become a bigger part of the offense and was already up to 94 yards and two scores prior to going to the locker room at the break.

USC also had a pretty strong defensive effort too — up until the final play of the half. Manny Wilkins completed only eight passes and Arizona State managed just two sustained drives all told but one was thanks to an N'Keal Harry 70 yard catch and the other was part of a wild Hail Mary as time expired. The play was reviewed numerous times before it actually resulted in points going on the board and required the two teams to come back from the locker room in order to kick the extra point.

We’ve come to think that Pac-12 games going late into the night will have some whacky ending and while this one appeared over, perhaps that Hail Mary is only the start of strange things to come.

No. 15 Utah overcomes slow start to take halftime lead over Arizona State

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Utah’s first four drives at Arizona State on Thursday night were far from what head coach Kyle Whittingham was expecting for a team coming into the game full rested.

There were two fumbles right off the bat for the offense, and then two straight three and outs. Not ideal, to say the least.

Somehow, the Utes overcame that slow start to take a 21-20 lead into the halftime break thanks to some surprisingly sharp passing in a wild second quarter.

Quarterback Troy Williams shook off some rust to finish the half with 215 yards and three touchdowns, the latter of which was to a wide open receiver with just 22 seconds left. It was the third scoring drive of the second quarter, and remarkably the only one of which that lasted more than four plays.

Arizona State did their best to match those big plays from the visitors. Their second to last drive of the half saw them quickly enter Utah territory. Head coach Todd Graham figured that a trick play was in order on the 31 yard line and decided to have receiver N'keal Harry take a double pass and try to throw it into the end zone.

The Utes defense was all over it however and forced Harry to run around. And around. And around. And eventually around every Utah defender all 31 yards to the end zone.

That game gave the Sun Devils the lead but one they were only able to hold for three minutes. If that is a sign of things to come, expect plenty of #Pac12AfterDark in Tempe during the second half.