Alden Darby saw something.
It was early in the third quarter, the ASU football team held a 27-21 lead and USC redshirt sophomore running back Tre Madden had just run for a first down.
Then, Darby saw it.
Trojans redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler ran play action on the next play and attempted to hit redshirt junior tight end Xavier Grimble on a wheel route, but Darby jumped it, picked it and 46 yards later, he saw the back of the end zone.
“They ran the play before in the second quarter and the tight end was wide open and he made a big catch into the red zone,” Darby said. “In the third quarter he tried to come back to that same play and I seen him wide open again and I left my assignment and the quarterback just threw me the ball and I went.”
Sun Devil coach Todd Graham saw it too, but gave all the credit to Darby, who recorded his second pick six in as many years against the Trojans.
“Big time pick six and a great return,” Graham said. “He was right on the sidelines there and I thought that was the play of the game.”
That score gave the Sun Devils a 13-point lead in the pivotal third quarter and provided the climax for Darby’s game, which included another interception and a forced fumble recovery.
Darby singlehandedly carried the secondary only a week after their missed assignments led directly to a Stanford passing touchdown and countless big plays over the middle.
Darby said the alignment errors in the secondary disappeared against the Trojans, a key to his career game.
“It just showed us that if we go to work all week long and practice and don’t have any mental mistakes, this is what the result on Saturday will be,” Darby said.
The result Saturday was a three-touchdown victory with three takeaways for the Long Beach native and he admitted the win had a different type of feel.
“It is very special,” Darby said. “It’s crazy how that works. I always got something against those guys. They don’t care about none of the underdog players, they only care about the big time, so every time I play them I like to show them that they should go after those underdogs.”
Darby showed just that and Graham once against complimented his senior team captain, who also finished with seven total tackles, good for second behind fellow senior and linebacker Chris Young.
“Alden is really, really good and can really comprehend things,” Graham said.
The win put the Darby and the Sun Devils in direct control of their Rose Bowl aspirations again and he had no difficulty comprehending the meaning of the victory.
“In order to win the South, you have to beat USC,” Darby said. “No questions about it.”
Darby still sees it.
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