Unga, Sun Devil Defense Terrorize UCLA

Unga, Sun Devil Defense Terrorize UCLA

Senior defensive end Paul ‘Unga was one of four Sun Devils to score a defensive touchdown on Saturday en route to a 34-9 victory over the UCLA Bruins. The feat by the ASU defense ties and NCAA record.

In his final game at Sun Devil Stadium Paul Unga and the entire Arizona State defense stepped their games and turned in one of the best defensive performances Sun Devil fans have ever witnessed.

"We were enforcing ‘Stop the run, stop the run'. We knew that if (UCLA Quarterback Kevin) Craft got some pressure on him he was going to throw some bad balls and all we did all week was emphasize stopping the run and pressure and that's what we came to do," remarked ‘Unga.

By looking solely at offensive yardage statistics one would assume that there is no way the Sun Devils came out on top. The Bruins had roughly three times as many yards on offense and were able to move the ball occasionally. But UCLA, a team that has struggled on offense all year, paid dearly for their turnovers.

Four different Sun Devils scored defensive touchdowns off Bruin turnovers as the defense carved out a spot next to the University of Houston (in a win over Texas in 1987) in the record books as the only two NCAA FBS teams to ever score four defensive touchdowns in a single game.

"I have never been a part of that kind of performance and coach Erickson just told us that (the four defensive touchdowns) is an NCAA record," said ‘Unga. "I'm just glad to be a part of it. Coach just told us to get two more (in the second half) and us seniors, being a senior, we just strive to be our best and we matched what coach wanted. He wanted two more, we got two more. Some how, some way we found a way to do it."

For the defensive tackle the touchdown serves as an exclamation point in his exciting, yet brief, Sun Devil career. However, even ‘Unga will be the first to admit that he was surprised that he scored.

"I never thought I'd get into the end zone," stated ‘Unga. "I always wanted to but I never thought it was going to happen. I just wanted to get two tackles, a sack maybe… but I saw the ball on the ground and just picked it up and took advantage of the opportunity to score."

‘Unga was so surprised that he did not even seem certain what happened on the play as he excitedly talked about it after.

"I saw Dex (Dexter Davis) hit the quarterback," recalled ‘Unga, "then I don't know who picked up the ball and then Mike Nixon hit it out of his hands and I'm running on the other side. I'm just running around and I didn't hear a whistle blown.

"I don't know which two players were standing next to the ball but I picked it up and started walking and Luis Vasquez said ‘Go!' so I ran for the touchdown. They reviewed it and it stayed so I was happy. I was watching the replay and I was like ‘Please, please let it be a fumble."

Junior linebacker Mike Nixon, who also had a touchdown against UCLA, echoed similar thoughts on the Unga touchdown.

"I was backside in coverage," said Nixon. "I saw the sack and thought it might be a fumble but the way the running back picked it up I thought it was a dead play so I just kind of slapped it out of his hands for good measure.

"Wooten blew up the running back right after that and Paul kind of walked in and no one really knew what was going on so the celebration wasn't what it should have been."

The win comes at a time when the Sun Devils desperately needed just that. With the victory over the Bruins ASU has now won three straight games after enduring a six game losing streak and are in position to earn a bowl bid with a victory over rival Arizona next Saturday.

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