It’s hard to state definitively whether it’s the match-ups, the locale or the gorgeous color-on-color uniform combination, but the Las Vegas Bowl frequently delivers some of the best early bowl season viewing, and the 2018 installment is no different.
No. 21 Fresno State and Arizona State are tied 17-17 at the half in the desert.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead 10 minutes when Anthoula Kelly stepped in front of a Manny Wilkins pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, but the Sun Devils responded with consecutive touchdown drives.
The first scoring drive was almost all Wilkins, as he rushed or pass on the final seven snaps of a 9-play, 65-yard drive, culminating in a 3-yard scoring toss to Kyle Williams. After forcing a Fresno State three-and-out, Arizona State took the lead when Eno Benjamin covered the final 30 yards on an 8-play, 58-yard march. Benjamin’s 17-yard touchdown run not only gave his team the lead, it handed him the Arizona State single-season rushing record at 1,585 yards.
Fresno State answered with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, seven of them runs. Ronnie Rivers ran for gains of 19 and 15 yards to open the drive, then quarterback Marcus McMaryion finished the drive with a 10-yard keeper, putting the Bulldogs back in front at 17-14 with 8:03 left in the first half.
Arizona State consumed nearly the remainder of the half, piecing together a marathon 17-play, 72-minute drive. Rather than go for a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Herm Edwards opted for a 20-yard Brandon Ruiz field goal with 51 seconds left in the first half.
Excluding kneel downs, Fresno State ran only 24 plays in the first half. McMaryion was 6-of-12 for 76 yards with a rushing touchdown, while Rivers carried nine times for 54 yards.
Wilkins was good outside of his pick-six, hitting 14-of-18 passes for 111 yards with a touchdown while rushing six times for 24 yards. Benjamin led all runners with 14 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona State will receive to open the second half.