TEMPE, Ariz. -- The first seven and a half minutes of the Arizona State football season were unpleasant for Sun Devil fans. The rest of the game? A whole lot better.
After a weekend full of FCS over FBS upsets, the Sun Devils made sure that they would not suffer a similar fate in a 55-0 victory.
Sacramento State took the opening kickoff and marched 59 yards in 16 plays on the much heralded ASU defense before having to settle for a field goal attempt. However, ASU defensive back Robert Nelson broke through and blocked the kick, ending both the scoring threat and any chance the Hornets had of staying in the game.
Another Nelson then made Sacramento State pay to begin the rout.
Newcomer De'Marieya Nelson hauled in an 15-yard touchdown to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive to get the Sun Devils a lead they would never come close to relinquishing.
ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly was just getting started. He would throw four more touchdown passes in the first half, staking the Sun Devils to a 42-0 lead at the break.
Kevin Ozier (41 yards), Jaelen Strong (24 yards), Chris Coyle (33 yards), and Marion Grice (26) all scored on passes thrown to the middle of the field on slants, as the Hornet secondary simply couldn't match the Sun Devils athleticism. Grice also scored on a six-yard run in the first half.
After those 59 yards on their opening drive, the Hornets would gain only 22 more in the half.
Despite the big lead, ASU's starters opened the second half for one drive, which ended with true freshman Zane Gonzalez 40-yard field goal. He missed from 33 and 49 yards in the fourth quarter, but made good with a 29-yard kick in between to produce the final margin.
Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici then handled the quarterbacking duties for ASU in the second half. Eubank's four-yard scoring run would be the only touchdown by either team in the half.
The easy win puts the Sun Devils to 1-0 as they await next Saturday's showdown with Wisconsin at home.
News and Notes
- ASU outgained Sacramento State 523-167
- After finishing 10th in the nation in fewest penalties in 2012, ASU had just one penalty for five yards on Thursday.
- On the flip side, the ASU defense that finished second in the nation in sacks had just one, by newcomer Antonio Longino.
- Will Sutton gave fans a scare by leaving the game with an injury in the first half, but soon returned to recover a fumble that set up a touchdown. He finished with two tackles.
- Chris Young had to be helped off the field with a left leg injury and did not return.
- ASU prides themselves on generating turnovers and ball security, and did well in each area. They forced four Hornet turnovers and did not surrender the ball.
- Strong, viewed by many as the team's top receiving threat, led the team with six catches.
- Deantre Lewis, looking to continue his return from his 2011 gunshot wound, had a great 57-yard catch and run in the second half.
- ASU has not lost a home opener since 1998 against Washington.