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Nelson Spruce

Arizona State returns to Pac-12 play in dominating fashion, routs Colorado – Tucson Citizen

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass during the college football game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Sun Devil Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images).

TEMPE, AZ – OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass during the college football game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Sun Devil Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images).

Tempe, Ariz.– Arizona State head coach said that he wanted more production from his team as they enter Pac-12 play, and did they ever, routing the Colorado Buffaloes by a score of 54-13 Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

It was the Sun Devils’ night from the very first snap, as quarterback Taylor Kelly quickly found wide receiver Jaelen Strong across the middle, with Strong simply outrunning the Buffaloes secondary for the 69 yard touchdown. After forcing a three and out by Colorado, Arizona State rode the run game back into the end zone, capped off by a eight yard touchdown run by Marion Grice. After Mike Bercovici found Strong on the two-point conversion, the Sun Devils led 15-0.

Colorado was unable to get anything going again, as they were forced to punt. After a solid return, Arizona State was left with a short field at the Colorado 37 yard line. The Sun Devils were unable to get much despite the great field position, and had to settle for a 26 yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez to extend the lead to 18-0.

The Sun Devils put the pressure on from the start.

“I really just wanted to give (the defensive line) opportunities to make plays early on,” Graham said. “I wanted to bring it from the start.”

Connor Wood’s next pass was intercepted by Lloyd Carrington, effectively ending Wood’s night. Arizona State would respond with another Marion Grice touchdown, extending the Arizona State lead to 25-0. This marked Grice’s 15th touchdown of the season. He had 18 touchdowns last season, his first as a Sun Devil.

Arizona State jumped out to it’s best first quarter of the season (25 points). They had just 24 points combined in their previous games this season.

“Coach (Graham) wanted the football (to start out the game), and we took advantage,” Kelly said.

When Colorado’s offense came back on the field, they went with true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau, who was making his debut for the Buffaloes. Liufau drove the Buffaloes down the field, and found Nelson Spruce for a 10 yard touchdown. After the failed two point conversion, Colorado trailed 25-6.

Taylor Kelly drove the Sun Devils back down the field, riding the legs of D.J. Foster and the hands of Cameron Smith, until he found defensive end Davon Coleman for the one yard touchdown. Coleman was eligible as a fullback, where he is featured in goal line packages. Arizona State got on the board again when they drew an intentional grounding penalty from Liufau, resulting in a safety and a 34-6 Sun Devils lead.

Arizona State would tack on a couple of field goals by Zane Gonzalez to make it 40-6, and a Taylor Kelly run made it 47-6 for Arizona State at the half. An R.J. Robinson touchdown midway through the third quarter would extend the Sun Devils lead to 54-6 at the end of the third quarter.

The starters did not play at all in the second half Friday.

“I rested the first team the whole second half,” Graham said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that as a coach.”

Liufau would lead a 11-play, 89 yard touchdown drive for the Buffaloes early in the fourth quarter, which was capped off by an eight yard touchdown run from Christian Powell to cut the lead to 54-13.

Kelly would finish the night 9-19 for 233 yards and two touchdowns, also running five times for 36 yards and one touchdown. Grice was dominant in the first half, finishing with 134 all-purpoe yards and two touchdowns of his own. Jaelen Strong finished with three catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

The Sun Devils defense picked off Colorado’s quarterbacks three times (one Wood, two Liufau), and limited Colorado to 268 yards of total offense in the game. The Buffaloes are still without a rushing touchdown this season. The Sun Devils forced four turnovers overall (three interceptions, one fumble).

The Sun Devils remain undefeated at home, and looked at their previous road losses as learning opportunities.

“We just got to be a bit more focused on the road,” Arizona State quarterback Kelly said.

“We don’t lose at home,” Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford said. “We’ve just got to take that same mentality on the road.

The Sun Devils credited their tougher early schedule to their performance in Friday night’s win.

“I think we’re a lot better team now than we were at this point last year,” Kelly said. “It really goes to the talent and maturity level (of our team).”

Graham immediately wanted to shift their focus to next week’s game, which features a tough Pac-12 North opponent.

“Our focus right now is on Washington,” he said. “We play a heck of a football team next week.”

The Arizona State Sun Devils (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) host the Washington Huskies (4-2, 1-2) on Saturday, October 9th (Pac-12 Network).

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