Fork Report: ASU struggles early, comes back vs. Utah for hard-fought win
With two fourth quarter touchdowns, the Sun Devils rallied to win their fourth straight game, beating Utah, 20-19.
ASU, which had scored better than 50 points in its past three games, scored first but then went nine straight possessions without a point while Utah scored 19 unanswered points to take a 19-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
Finally in the fourth quarter, quarterback Taylor Kelly got the offense back on track. He rushed for a score and then found Rick Smith for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:37 left to play.
The defense then went back to work, coming up with back-to-back interceptions by Robert Nelson and Will Sutton, which sealed the Sun Devils' tenth straight win against Utah.
Kelly rushed for two scores---his sixth and seventh of the season all of which have come in the past four games.
Senior running back Marion Grice extended his 100 all-purpose yards streak to 11 straight games. He finished with 219 total yards (136 rushing, 20 receiving, 63 return).
The Sun Devils defense forced eight three-and-outs, including on four straight possessions at one point in the second half.
Late in the first quarter, redshirt freshman lineback Salamo Fiso jumped offsides on a made field goal. After accepting the penalty, Utah converted on 4th-and-1, extending the drive that would eventually end with a touchdown.
Redshirt junior running back Deantre Lewis fumbled for the second straight game. It marked the Sun Devils' fifth lost fumble of the season and came immediately after Lewis had gained 26 yards on his first rush attempt of the game.
WHEN IT WAS OVER
It was over when Nelson picked off Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, who was pressured on the play by Sutton, with 2:26 remaining in the game. It was Nelson's fourth interception of the season.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Marion Grice. Though he was held out of the end zone for a second straight game, Grice was the Sun Devils' best offensive threat. He topped 100 rushing yards for the second time this season and second time in three games overall.
The Sun Devils offense ran a season-high eleven plays for negative yards. The previous mark of ten was set at Stanford.
The Sun Devils won the toss and for only the third time under head coach Todd Graham elected to receive, taking the football to begin the game.
HE SAID IT
"If anything is in the air, we're going to take it," Nelson said of the two interceptions the Sun Devils had against Wilson.
"Just a team effort. That's what championship teams do...they find ways to win," Graham said.
The Sun Devils (7-2, 5-1) are back home for the first time in four weeks. ASU hosts Oregon State on Saturday, November 16. The game is scheduled to kick-off at 7:30 with television on Pac-12 Network; and of course the Sun Devils' flagship station Arizona Sports 620 with pregame coverage starting at 5:30.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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