If there was a costume to describe ASU football on Halloween night, it’d be that it looked like a home team outside of Sun Devil Stadium.
There were little tricks but many treats as the Sun Devils (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) blew out Washington State 55-21, giving ASU its first road win of the season and bowl eligibility for the third straight year.
ASU coach Todd Graham said he was pleased with finally having a road win, but being bowl-eligible never was a goal for his team.
“I’m not interested in that,” Graham said. “We just want to win championships. I’m proud of that. It’s not something we’re going to take for granted and be arrogant about, but we don’t talk about that.”
The Sun Devils’ 55 points were the most they scored against a Pac-12 opponent on the road since 1996 when they put up 56 against UA.
The only oddity of this game was senior running back Marion Grice finished the game without a touchdown and had his first fumble of his ASU career that was recovered by his teammates. Grice did however record 94 rushing yards and 31 receiving yards.
But ASU didn’t need much help from the nation’s leading scorer.
Instead, redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Kelly led the way for the offense and was responsible for the Sun Devils’ first seven touchdowns. He finished the game throwing 22-for-31 with 275 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception and also ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
“I do not worry about offense,” Graham said. “We don’t turn the football over and we don’t have negative plays, no penalties and we’ll score. (Offensive coordinator) Mike (Norvell) has got a good system and has done a very good job teaching.”
Kelly’s big game opened with a 7-yard touchdown on ASU’s first offensive drive of the game after keeping the ball on a read option. On the Sun Devils’ next drive, Kelly ran another read option for a 6-yard touchdown.
With ASU’s defense holding Washington State (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) to four consecutive three-and-outs in the meantime and jumping on a fumble, Kelly then connected with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jaelen Strong for an 11-yard pass.
Things didn’t start going for Washington State’s offense until the end of the second quarter. Cougars redshirt junior quarterback Connor Halliday orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks to cut the deficit to 21-7.
But Kelly still couldn’t be stopped.
Kelly strung together three straight drives that resulted in touchdown passes — a 7-yard pass to sophomore running back D.J. Foster, a 51-yarder to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Richard Smith that he made with a circus catch and an 8-yarder to senior tight end Chris Coyle.
Halliday answered with just one touchdown pass before the end of the first half with a 15-yard completion to redshirt junior wide receiver Ricky Galvin. At halftime, the Cougars looked up at a 42-14 deficit.
The Cougars weren’t ready to roll over coming out of the locker room, though.
After ASU opened the half going three-and-out, Washington State put together an 8-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard rush from redshirt freshman running back Jeremiah Laufasa.
That’s all the Cougars had left for the rest of the game.
Kelly threw his last touchdown with a 23-yard pass to Foster, which gave Foster his first game with multiple touchdowns of his career. His only blemish was when senior safety Deone Bucannon picked him off early in the fourth quarter.
ASU freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez tacked on two field goals — one from 37 yards and another from 36 — to seal the final score at 55-21.
ASU had 557 yards of total offense, 282 of which from rushing. Strong and Foster were both limited with injuries but still had full action in the first half and some in the second.
Halliday ended the game with 29-for-54 passing, 300 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to redshirt senior defensive back Robert Nelson, Jr. The Cougars had just two rushing yards.
“To mix our coverages up, I think that was the key,” Graham said. “We just played down on them, re-routed them, drop guys down on them, move the secondary a little bit. I’m pretty familiar with what they do. I thought our guys prepared and they executed well.”
The win helped ASU keep the inside track for the Pac-12 South lead over UCLA for another week. With two games each at home and on the road, Graham feels confident in his team’s goal to win the conference title but remains focused.
“That’s one more down and we got five more to go to be Pac-12 champions and four to get there (to the game),” Graham said.
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