TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jayden Daniels scored on a 17-yard scramble with 34 seconds left and threw three touchdown passes to ailing Brandon Aiyuk, leading No. 18 Arizona State to a 38-34 comeback victory over Washington State on Saturday.
Arizona State (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) trailed by three after Blake Mazza made a 31-yard field goal with 2 1/2 minutes left. Taking over at their own 25-yard line, the Sun Devils moved quickly down the field behind Daniels’ pinpoint passing.
The freshman capped the drive with his scramble, helicoptering off a defender into the end zone.
Daniels threw for 363 yards on 26-of-36 passing. Aiyuk had seven catches for 196 yards despite an illness that kept him out for portions of the game.
Anthony Gordon threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns, but Washington State (3-3, 0-3) was again let down by its defense.
The Cougars lead the nation in passing yards per game, are fourth in total offense and eighth in scoring.
Washington State was good against Arizona State from the start.
Gordon took advantage of blown coverages by Arizona State to hit Travell Harris on a 35-yard touchdown and Dezmon Patmon on a 2-yard score to put the Cougars up 17-7.
Where Washington State has struggled is on defense, so much that defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys abruptly resigned this week.
Washington State’s defense was solid early under interim coordinator Roc Bellantoni, sacking Daniels three times in the first nine plays while holding Arizona State to 23 yards in the first quarter.
The Sun Devils came alive behind the Daniels-Aiyuk connection. The pair hooked up on a 40-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, then Aiyuk broke a tackle to turn a short completion into an 86-yard score .
Cristian Zendejas’ 31-yard field goal on the final play of the first half tied the game at 17-all.
Arizona State took a 24-17 lead to open the second half when Eno Benjamin turned a fourth-and-1 into a 32-yard touchdown run.
Washington State responded with drives of 91 and 92 yards, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Gordon to Easop Winston Jr. and Max Borghi’s 2-yard run.
Daniels and Aiyuk connected for a third score, a 33-yarder to tie it at 31-all.
Another huge offensive game (532 total yards) by Washington State, another defensive letdown leaves the Cougars winless in Pac-12 play.
The calm, cool play of their freshman quarterback has the Sun Devils rising, likely up a few spots in next week’s AP Top 25.
Washington State hosts Colorado next Saturday.
Arizona State plays at Utah next Saturday.