Late touchdown propels Arizona State past UTSA on Friday night, 32-28
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The touchdowns came more easily back home in the desert. Down in Texas, the Arizona State Sun Devils found themselves in a grinder where every yard and score was tough to earn.
Kalen Ballage scored on a 2-yard run with 3:15 to play and Arizona State rallied from 16 points down in the second half for a rugged 32-28 win over Texas-San Antonio on Friday night.
Heavy favorites against a Conference USA program still in its infancy, the Sun Devils found themselves down early and fighting from behind nearly the entire game a week after putting up 68 points in a win over Texas Tech.
"Never give up," Arizona State linebacker DJ Calhoun said, adding his team was probably a bit "cocky" after its previous win. "We came in here thinking we could just run past this team. We fought. Never give up."
Arizona State scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Ballage, who tied an NCAA record with eight touchdowns against Texas Tech, capped the rally when he took a direct snap and powered over the goal line. The touchdown was set up by a defensive pass interference penalty on third down one play earlier.
Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals, including two from 54 yards, for Arizona State (3-0) and became the Pac-12 career scoring leader.
Manny Wilkins passed for 264 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils. Wilkins threw a 27-yard score to N'Keal Harry with 3 seconds left in the first half. His 45-yard pass to Frederick Gammage in the fourth quarter cut the UTSA lead to 28-25.
Wilkins shook off what looked like a ferocious hit in the first quarter and didn't miss a play.
"I don't ever sit on the floor," Wilkins. "I'm going to get up and go to the next play. I've got a fighter's mentality."
Dalton Sturm passed for 229 yards and three touchdowns for UTSA (1-2). He also ran for 82 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown in the third quarter that had the Roadrunners thinking about a program-changing upset.
"Proud of the effort we had," Sturm said. "But I felt like everybody else in the locker room: It hurts."