Parade floats and sparkling crowns are Homecoming staples.
So too, it seems, are high-flying touchdown grabs by running back Marion Grice, as the Sun Devils defeated the 20th-ranked Washington Huskies, 53-24, in Tempe, Ariz.
The tall, looping pass stuck to Grice’s single glove as he flew through the air, and by the narrowest margin of an elbow in bounds in the end zone did the Sun Devils regain their offensive momentum early in the second quarter.
The acrobatics by Grice—and a previous catch by Chris Coyle resulting in the tight end flipping circus-style through the air—helped the Devils spark their offense and post 22 consecutive points in the first half.
While the offensive gymnastics were impressive, the game truly belonged to the Arizona State defense. The Sun Devil defense held Washington running back Bishop Sankey, the nation’s leading rusher, to just 22 yards in the game. Sankey came into the game averaging almost 150 yards in his previous six games.
The ASU defense held Washington’s rush game, ranked 15th nationally with 248 rushing yards per game, to a total of -5-yards. Saturday’s game was only the third time in 18 years the Sun Devils have held an opponent to -5-yards or less.
The Huskies scored on the Sun Devils quickly in their first series and defensively forced the Devils to go three-and-out twice in a row for their own opening drives.
After the allowing the lone touchdown on the opening drive in the first half, the Sun Devil defense forced six-consecutive three-and-outs for the Huskies. Sixty of Washington’s 74 yards of total offense in the first half came from UW’s opening touchdown drive.
Consistent pressure by defensive tackle Will Sutton led a Devils defense that racked up 12 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, and held the UW offense to 272 yards in the game and negative-five yards on the ground.. Washington came into the contest averaging 526.8 yards per game and 212 rushing yards.
The second half opened with the Sun Devils in the lead 29-7, but UW scored quickly and furiously on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Price to senior receiver Kevin Smith.
The Sun Devils, however, answered by capitalizing off a 15-yard penalty and a 36-yard carry by Kelly, who shook off the Huskies’ pressure with a backward stiff-arm. Kelly later rushed for a one-yard touchdown two plays later.
Offensively, Grice put up his usual big numbers with three touchdowns to push his total to 18 on the season. He had four catches for 37 yards and 21 carries for 158 rushing yards. Kelly also carried in two touchdowns en route to a career-high 84 rushing yards, and went 26-for-42 for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Senior receiver Kevin Ozier climbed back into the leading receivers category with eight catches for 88 yards, and Coyle finished with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The Sun Devils are on a bye next week, and then travel to Washington State for a nationally televised match-up with the Cougars on Thurs., Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.