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Arizona State Loses Grip on Ball, Game : Nonconference: The Sun Devils give up five fumbles, including one that sets up Nebraska’s clinching touchdown in an 18-9 loss.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

No. 24-ranked Arizona State, fresh off a victory over USC, lost its grip on the football and another upset bid in an 18-9 loss Saturday night before 72,812 at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Sun Devils bobbled away their chances for a second consecutive upset, fumbling seven times and losing five, including one that set up Nebraska’s clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Arizona State quarterback Bret Powers fumbled twice in the fourth quarter, the crusher coming with Arizona State trailing only 11-9 with 13 minutes 28 seconds left in the game.

Powers dropped back to pass and was hit hard from the blindside by outside linebacker David White, forcing the ball loose, and Nebraska’s Kevin Ramaekers recovered.

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Two plays later, Nebraska’s Keithen McCant threw nine yards to a wide-open Jon Bostick in the end zone to give the Cornhuskers an 18-9 lead.

Arizona State (2-1) took its first lead of the game by capitalizing on a blocked field-goal attempt early in the second half. Arthur Paul blocked Byron Bennett’s 52-yard attempt with 12:53 left in the third quarter, and Shante Carver returned it 11 yards to the Nebraska 40.

Powers then passed to a wide-open Kelvin Fisher over the middle for a 39-yard gain, and George Montgomery scored on a one-yard run on the next play to give Arizona State a 9-8 lead. Powers’ extra-point run fell two yards shy.

Bennett gained some redemption on the next series, ending a 15-play, 61-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal to give Nebraska an 11-8 lead.

Nebraska (3-1) took the opening kickoff and drove 52 yards in seven plays, capped by a one-yard dive by McCant with 11:32 left in the first quarter.

Bennett’s extra-point attempt was blocked, but William Washington caught the deflection and ran it in to give the Cornhuskers an 8-0 lead.

The scoring drive was keyed by a 34-yard run by sophomore I-back Derek Brown, a former Anaheim Servite standout.

Brown, who played only the first series of the first half before returning at the start of the second half, rushed for more than 100 yards for the fourth consecutive time this season, finishing with 135 yards in 25 carries.

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