ASU beats USC 62-41 behind third quarter surge

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ASU QB Taylor Kelly runs for 40 yards against USC. By Brad Denny ASU QB Taylor Kelly runs for 40 yards against USC. By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz. -- What appeared to be a case of missed opportunities in the first half became a deluge of big plays for Arizona State in the second half during their 62-41 win over the USC Trojans on Saturday night.

A 28-point third quarter explosion helped the Sun Devils top the Trojans for just second time over the last 14 meetings between the schools, and evened ASU's Pac-12 record at 1-1. ASU running back Marion Grice scored four touchdowns for the second time this season to help the Sun Devils overcome a late Trojan rally.

Taylor Kelly threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns and wide receiver Jaelen Strong had seven catches for 103 yards to lead the Sun Devils offensive explosion in which the team racked up 612 yards of total offense. 

Defensively, ASU was led by Alden Darby, who had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery that helped key the third quarter surge.

The Sun Devils were able to grab a lead on the game's opening drive, thanks to two long receptions by tight end Chris Coyle that set up a Michael Eubank one-yard sneak. 

However, USC was able to gash a vulnerable ASU run defense playing without defensive tackle Jaxon Hood. The Trojans ran for 91 yards in the first quarter, including a 26-yard score by Justin Davis. 

That momentum carried over into the early second quarter, when a 25-yard run by Tre Madden set up his 10-yard touchdown reception to give USC their first lead.

With the team on the ropes, Kelly was able to spur the Sun Devil offense back into form with a 40-yard run to get into USC territory. Kelly then connected with Grice for an 11-yard touchdown reception to even the score.

It was then that ASU's defense rose up twice, but their offense couldn't cash in fully.

First, a tipped pass off of USC wide receiver Marqise Lee's hands was intercepted by Osahon Irabor. ASU moved into a 3rd and goal from the USC one-yard line, but a penalty forced them into a 28-yard field goal.

On USC's next drive, Sun Devil safety Alden Darby forced and recovered by Madden, but despite great field position, ASU was forced to settle for another short field goal to take a slim 20-14 lead into the half.

Those missed opportunities seemed to doom ASU early on in the second half, but a furious flourish of plays soon gave the momentum back to the Sun Devils.

A 51-yard reception by Lee set up a 24-yard touchdown run by Madden, who was untouched on the play. That UCS lead would last all of two plays.

Kelly found a streaking Foster alone in the middle of the field, and Foster outran the Trojan secondary for a 74-yard touchdown to reclaim the lead.

On the ensuing USC possession, quarterback Cody Kessler was intercepted by Darby on the second play. Darby would head to the sideline and return it 46 yards for the touchdown.

A reinvigorated Sun Devil defense held USC in check for the remainder of the quarter. After another Grice touchdown made it 41-21, USC head coach Lane Kiffin decided to gamble. On a 4th and one from their own 41, Kiffin had Madden line up in the Wildcat formation. Trying to catch ASU off guard, Madden threw a pass, but was intercepted by Darby. That was soon turned into another Grice touchdown, sending the game into the fourth quarter with ASU leading 48-21.

But these two teams were not done.

Shoddy ASU angles allowed Madden to take a screen on a 3rd and eight for 48 yards and a touchdown to close the gap. 

Immediately after, USC gambled again and it paid off. They recovered an onside kick, catching the Sun Devils completely unaware. Seven plays later, Davis ran 15 yards for the touchdown while a silent Sun Devil crowd sat in silence.

USC tried another onside kick, but ASU recovered both the ball and momentum. The Sun Devils ran the ball five straight times, the final being a 28-yard touchdown by Grice to end the USC threat.

ASU running back Deantre Lewis had a 45-yard run on the next ASU possession to get to the one-yard line, which he converted one the next play to get the Sun Devils over 60 points.

Davis was able to notch the game's final score, a 58-yard scamper with just 2:24 left, but it was too little, too late for USC.

ASU moves to 3-1 on the year as they will head to Dallas next week for a battle with Notre Dame.

News and Notes

  • ASU's 62 points are the most ever scored by the Sun Devils against USC.
  • Kelly's 351 are the most passing yards ever by a Sun Devil quarterback against USC.
  • Lee left the game on a cart in the second half. He finished with seven catches for 92 yards. 
  • ASU has now allowed 230 or more yards rushing in all three games against FBS teams this year.
  • Kelly's 40-yard run in the second quarter was ASU's longest rush of the season, until Lewis' 45-yarder in the fourth quarter.
  • After both Dom Vizzare and Matt Haack struggled at punter, kicker Alex Garoutte handled the punting for ASU. He kicked three times for an average of 38 yards.
  • There were 14,118 student tickets sold tonight, an ASU record. Announced attendance was 64,987