Sun Devils’ Second Half Play Lifts To Win On Senior Day
By Lucas Robbins,
TEMPE, Ariz. — The No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils overcame a close first half to beat the Washington State Cougars 52-31 in the final home game of the season at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Sun Devils’ (9-2, 6-2) defense forced three turnovers in the second half as the Devils outscored WSU 31-7 after the break en route to their 27th win in the past three years under head coach Todd Graham.
ASU pulled ahead for good in the fourth quarter when senior defensive end Marcus Hardison forced a fumble on a 6-yard sack and sophomore nose tackle Viliami Latu returned it 51 yards. The Sun Devils scored the following play when junior tailback D.J. Foster ran in an 18-yard touchdown that gave ASU the lead for good, 38-24.
The senior defenders were dynamic in their final home game. Safety Damarious Randall led the way with 11 tackles, including nine solo and one for loss, broke up a pair of passes and made the first interception of the game in one-on-one coverage that set up ASU’s first score. It was his third consecutive game with an interception and the sixth of his two-year career. Hardison added three tackles, including two sacks for a combined loss of 17 yards, and added an interception.
Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 15-of-25 pass attempts for 232 yards and four touchdowns. His performance put him first all-time at ASU in career points responsible for with 528 to pass former quarterback Andrew Walter, who tallied 510 total points between 2001-04.
Sophomore wide receiver Cameron Smith led all receivers with six catches for a career-high 131 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Foster finished the afternoon with 155 all-purpose yards, including 96 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and five catches for 59 yards to continue his streak of catching a pass in all 38 games of his career.
ASU scored 35 points off the five turnovers its defense forced, including four interceptions and one fumble. Junior cornerback Kweishi Brown and redshirt sophomore linebacker Salamo Fiso recorded the Sun Devils’ other two interceptions.
The first quarter was a defensive struggle as there were eight changes of possession between the two teams and only one score. ASU sophomore punter Matt Haack had three punts longer than 50 yards in the first quarter alone and finished the afternoon with seven punts for an average of 52.9 yards, including a 65-yard career high.
The Cougars opened the scoring late in the first quarter when WSU quarterback Luke Falk ran in a one-yard touchdown to finish off a 53-yard drive. The Sun Devils responded when Foster earned a 42-yard gain on a pass from Kelly and sealed the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter and even the score, 7-7.
The scoring continued in the second quarter as the Cougars regained the lead when Falk completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Rickey Galvin, and increased the lead with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Isiah Myers that put WSU ahead by 14, 21-7. ASU once again answered back when Kelly found Smith in the endzone for a 42-yard touchdown reception.
Hardison intercepted Falk on the first play of the following possession and added a 12-yard return that set up a three-play drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown catch for redshirt sophomore Frederick Gammage, his first career touchdown that tied the game at 21-21 in the second quarter.
Kicker Quentin Breshears regained the lead for WSU when he made a 27-yard field goal as time expired to make the score 24-21 at halftime.
With more than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brown made an acrobatic one-handed interception to stall the threatening Cougars. Kelly threw a 67-yard long-ball to Smith on the following play, his longest completion of the season, to set up a leaping one-yard touchdown run by Foster that gave ASU a 28-24 lead.
After giving up 337 yards of offense in the first half, the Sun Devil defense held the Cougars to 73 yards in the third quarter.
Gonzales added a 47-yard field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter that made the score 31-24 and increased his season total to 19.
Falk ended the afternoon 45-of-74 for 601 yards and three touchdowns, and had four interceptions.
The Sun Devils travel to Tucson for the Territorial Cup on Friday, Nov. 28. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. AZ and will be televised on FOX.