Instant recap: No. 9 ASU 55, No. 10 Notre Dame 31

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.18.16 PM An ominous feeling hung around the Sun Devil Stadium crowd at halftime, seemingly as if ASU's 34-10 lead going into the locker room was too good to be true. And ASU almost found a way to hand visiting Notre Dame a road victory in a battle of two ranked heavyweights looking to make a statement and move closer to earning a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

But it was ASU's defense that stole the stage early, on a roll after giving up an average of just 12 points per game in its last three games.

After exchanging field goals with the Irish (7-2) the Sun Devils (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) scored 17 points in 90 seconds, thanks to a fumble by senior quarterback Everett Golson on a sack by freshman defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood, who jumped on the ball and setup a first and goal at the Notre Dame 13-yard line.

Redshirt senior quarterback Kelly looked for redshirt junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who made an acrobatic one-handed catch to begin the offensive onslaught.

Senior defensive lineman Marcus Hardison intercepted a Golson pass, setting up a short field for freshman running back Demario Richard, who followed up his 108-yard performance against Utah with a 1-yard touchdown run and a critical 40-yard catch late in the fourth quarter, who streaked down the sideline nearly untouched before being forced out of bounds.

Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly drops back to pass during ASU's game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. (Photo by Alexis Macklin) Redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly drops back to pass during ASU's game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. (Photo by Alexis Macklin)

He ran for 54 yards on 13 carries, trailing junior running back DJ Foster, who led all rushers with 126 yards on 21 attempts.

The Sun Devil offense, which punted six times, was a shell of the potent attack that has become offensive coordinator Mike Norvell's calling card.

Notre Dame scored 28 unanswered points to open the second half, and came within three points of tying the game, trailing 34-31 after senior receiver Amir Carlisle was left all alone in the end zone due to a blown assignment by junior defensive back Kweishi Brown.

But Golson (22-41, 446 passing yards) was so erratic that it didn't seem to matter. He was sacked seven times, and threw four interceptions, including a pair that were returned for touchdowns, while throwing a pair of touchdown passes. In the first half, it was senior safety Damarious Randall that ran one back 59 yards, while it was Lloyd Carrington who clinched the Sun Devil victory with a 56-yard pick-six.

Kelly finished 17-28 with 228 yards through the air, and threw an interception to that senior cornerback Matthias Fairley, which Notre Dame cashed in on, with a one-yard touchdown run from senior running back Cam McDaniel to narrow the ASU lead to 10 points with 9:12 to go.

After the Carlisle touchdown, the Irish would not get any closer, and a sack of Golson on fourth down by sophomore linebacker Vilami Latu gave Kelly and Co. the ball with 3:12 to go, and the offense entered run-out-the-clock mode.

When the Sun Devils in the red zone, and the game essentially over, instead of going into victory formation with about a minute to go, Kelly went around the right end and into the end zone untouched for a touchdown, capping a 55-31 victory and secured his place atop the ASU all-time list at for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,396.

Reach the assistant sports editor at smodrich@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @StefanJModrich

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