ASU football runs over the Colorado Buffaloes' defense

Demario Richard, Manny Wilkins and Eno Benjamin had a night to remember

ASU football used a dominant run game to defeat the Colorado Buffalos and win its 600th game in program history on Salute to Service Night at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. 

The Sun Devils' (5-4, 4-2 Pac-12) 381 total yards on the ground was the most in a conference game since running for 405 yards against Oregon on Nov. 15, 1997. Senior running back Demario Richard (189) and redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins (95) both set career-highs for rushing yards. 

“(I am) really proud of Demario Richard,” head coach Todd Graham said. “He’s really emerged as the leader of our team.” 

Even freshman running back Eno Benjamin got into the act, scoring his first career touchdown with 5:33 remaining in the game. Wilkins thought Benjamin was possibly due for a big performance, and he was not wrong.

“I think he is young – I think he still has a lot to learn,” Wilkins said. “He brings a different element to our team. I think for him, this is huge confidence booster. Just to have that feeling of getting in the end zone (at) Sun Devil Stadium with everybody cheering for you, I was very proud of him to have that moment.” 

Benjamin finished with 52 yards on five carries, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. 

Richard was at his best in the fourth. He scored a 5-yard touchdown with 8:38 remaining to tie the game at 27 points apiece and finished the quarter with 141 yards. Richard had more yards rushing in the fourth than ASU totaled in 12 of their prior 16 games. 

“In the fourth quarter, I know what time it is,” Richard said. “When the game is close, my teammates depend on me.”

Richard finished the game with 25 carries (7.6 yards per carry). His longest run of the night went for 63 yards and set up Wilkins’ game-sealing 1-yard touchdown with 46 seconds remaining. 

“(I was) just thinking, ‘It is my time – I just have to seal the deal,’” Richard said. “I know the offensive line is 110 percent confident. When we come on the field, it is a mindset every time. I’ve been playing with a busted ankle all week and this is my witness (Wilkins) right here. If my ankle wasn’t busted, it was 80 yards to the house.” 

Colorado was ahead by three late with 7:09 remaining but the Sun Devils kept their energy high and were rewarded. After the Buffaloes scored, Benjamin capped off the team’s ensuing drive with a 19-yard touchdown to put ASU up 34-30 with 5:33 in the fourth quarter. 

Entering Saturday’s contest, the Sun Devils averaged only 186.9 yards on the ground, but set a season-high against a Colorado defense that entered the game with the eighth-worst run defense in the Pac-12 (179.1 yards per game).  

“Our mindset is always, 'Take what the defense gives us,'” Wilkins said. “In that second half, especially in that fourth quarter, we just ran the ball with a different attitude. It was a statement for us.” 


 Reach the reporter at jpjacqu1@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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