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Nov. 8, 1997

Sun Devils Hold Off Golden Bears

BERKELEY, Calif. - J.R. Redmond rushed for 114 yards and a score and caught one of Ryan Kealy's two touchdown passes as 16th-ranked Arizona State kept its Rose Bowl hopes alive, squeaking out a 28-21 Pac-10 Conference victory over California.

Creig Spann
Creig Spann took a Ryan Kealy pass 65 yards for his first career touchdown. (File Photo)

The Sun Devils (7-2, 5-1 Pac-10), who have won four straight games, took a share of the Pac-10 lead, along with Washington State and UCLA, thanks to Washington's loss to Oregon. Arizona State, which beat Washington State last week, hosts Oregon next weekend.

"As early as last February I met with the team, and my words to them were you have the talent to go back to the Rose Bowl and try to get done what you didn't get done," Sun Devils coach Bruce Snyder said of his team's Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State last season. "The key issue is whether you come together as a team, but we have the talent to be there."

Kealy hit Redmond with a 28-yard touchdown pass and found Tariq McDonald for the conversion with 4:40 left in the third quarter, building a 28-7 lead.

"We had a slow start offenisvely. The defense went out there and got after them," Redmond said. "But we started to calm down, make the right calls and move the ball down field."

California (3-6, 1-5) stormed back in the fourth quarter, as Tarik Smith scored on an 18-yard scamper and Justin Vedder capped a nine-play, 67-yard drive with an eight-yard scoring strike to Bobby Shaw with 4:39 to play.

But the Sun Devils, who have won 10 of their last 11 games on the road, picked up enough first downs to run out the clock.

"In the fourth quarter, I was proud of that (Cal's offense). The fact that we came out and battled back," Golden Bears coach Tom Holmoe said. "But they ran the clock down at the end. We had a shot, a legitimate shot at the end and that is what we can play for."

Kealy completed 14-of-33 passes for 273 yards for Arizona State, which has lost just once in its last 14 Pac-10 contests. The Sun Devils outgained California 429 yards to 299.

"Once things got going we really drove the ball down well," Kealy said. "Cal played a hell of a game. They are a really good team that came to play and hit us in the mouth a couple of times and woke us up."

Vedder completed 15-of-30 passes for 173 yards with two interceptions and hooked up with Shaw six times for 76 yards. Shaw set the school record for receptions in a season with 67, moving two past the 1992 record of Sean Dawkins. He also surpassed Brian Treggs as Cal's all-time receptions leader with 172.

"It's bittersweet. You feel like you can't enjoy it to the fullest because you didn't win the game, but you have to enjoy what you have, and I will enjoy the whole experience when it's all said and done," Shaw said of his record-breaking night.

Following a fumble by Vedder at his own 8-yard line, Arizona State got on the board as Redmond went up the middle for a five-yard touchdown with 7:31 left in the second quarter.

"J.R. Redmond is clearly one of the dominant players in our conference, and maybe one of the truly great players in the nation," Snyder said. "We are a good football team when he is in the game."

Kealy connected with Creig Spann on a 65-yard touchdown pass just 96 seconds after Redmond's score, and Robert Nycz booted a 42-yard field goal as the first half expired for a 17-0 lead.

When asked about being tied for first place in the Pac 10, Spann said, "It feels real good. It lets us know that we really are in the Rose Bowl hunt. If we just keep winning and doing our job, we'll be there."

Cornerback Derrick Gardner returned Redmond's fumble 72 yards down the right sideline for a score early in the third quarter to get California on the board. But Nycz answered with a 23-yard field goal less than three minutes later for a 20-7 edge.

Defensive lineman Jeremy Staat collected three of Arizona State's six sacks.

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