By Jourdan Rodrigue
Digital Communications Intern
Flashes of brilliance by both the Arizona State offense and defense turned an initially close game into a 62-41 Sun Devil victory Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. It was the first time in history the ASU football program has scored more than 50 points against USC.
With heavy coverage on breakout wide receiver Jaelen Strong, ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly quickly and methodically moved the ball down the field in his first series with two huge passes up the middle to last year’s favorite target, Chris Coyle. Running back Marion Grice was then able to punch a Sun Devil touchdown through the formidable Trojan defense to put up the first points of the game.
The initial drive was classic of Kelly and his offense, but the rest of the game quickly became unpredictable.
It seemed as if the Trojans were capitalizing on the loss of ASU’s Jaxon Hood at the start of the game with several runs up the middle by USC running back Tre Madden.
But a massive sack by defensive tackle Will Sutton and a resulting three-and-out series for the Trojans swung back the momentum in favor of ASU.
And when USC bumped their score up 14-7 over the Devils, another huge tackle by Sutton and a 40-yard rush by Kelly (the longest for the Devils this season) ignited the offense and resulted in another Sun Devil touchdown by Grice.
Reigning All-American USC receiver Marqise Lee was essentially a non-factor in the first half thanks to the defensive efforts of linebacker Carl Bradford and safety Alden Darby. In fact, the Trojans only amassed 87 receiving yards in juxtaposition to ASU’s 211, and Lee also bobbled an easy, looping pass into Irabor’s hands that resulted in an ASU field goal.
The third quarter opened in USC’s favor with a Madden touchdown that put the Trojans in the lead 21-20, but the Sun Devils grabbed themselves some breathing room with four unanswered touchdowns: one a 74-yard pass completion from Kelly to Foster (their longest pass/reception, respectively), another a pick six by Darby (whose other career pick six was also against USC last year), and a third a classic Kelly-to-Grice connection. A second pick by Darby later in the quarter led to a Sun Devil touchdown by Grice to boost the score, 48-21.
And by the end of the fourth quarter, a USC defense that had only allowed an average of 230.5 yards in their first three games had let Arizona State amass 612 offensive yards.
Grice ended the night with four touchdowns, upping his total to 12 in four games. Kelly went 23-for-34 with 351 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for a team-high 79 yards. Darby had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and Chris Young led the defense with 10 tackles for the second consecutive game.
The Sun Devils will play Notre Dame at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on October 5.