ASU holds on for 24-10 victory over Washington

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Armand Perry secures the win with an interception return for a touchdown By Brad Denny Armand Perry secures the win with an interception return for a touchdown By Brad Denny

SEATTLE -- It wasn't pretty—and in fact was often ugly—but Arizona State did just enough to beat the Washington Huskies 24-10 on Saturday night. 

Taylor Kelly, making his first start in six weeks, shook off an interception returned for a touchdown to lead the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The Sun Devil defense continued their strong play of late, and sealed the win moments later with Armand Perry's 61-yard interception return for a touchdown. 

ASU, ranked No. 14 coming into the game, improved to 6-1 on the year. With USC's loss to Utah earlier in the night, the Sun Devils moved into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South division.

Weather was a major factor during the game, as a strong storm system had hit Seattle. Rain fell throughout the night, and winds gusted to over 50 miles-per-hour in the first half. Those conditions wreaked havoc with the passing and kicking games, turning the contest into a hard-hitting defensive duel.

The game began sluggishly, with eight total punts and a Sun Devil turnover on downs marking the end of the nine first quarter possessions. Kelly, returning after missing three games with a foot injury, was visibly rusty.

Washington looked to get on the board early in the second quarter, as they set to attempt a 40-yard field goal. However, Cameron Van Winkle's kick was blocked by 6-foot-9 defensive lineman Paul Crawford.

A pair of punts followed, the last a dreadful 24-yarder by Washington's Korey Durkee that gave the Sun Devils great field position at the 50. ASU freshman running back Demario Richard then helped inject some life into the Sun Devil offense. Over consecutive straight runs, he gained 34 yards down and led ASU down to the Washington 16. One the next play, Kelly found Jaelen Strong for a touchdown.

Another Durkee shank, this one just 15 yards, ended UW's next possession and once again set u ASU with favorable position. A 36-yard catch-and-run from Deantre Lewis into the Husky redzone, and ASU capped the drive with a 33-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal to send them into the half leading 10-0.

Midway through the third quarter, with both defenses dominating in the rain, ASU found themselves on the doorstep of putting the game away.

ASU linebacker Laiu Moeakiola sacked UW quarterback Troy Williams—making the start in place of injured Cyler Miles—and forced a fumble recovered by Sun Devil defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry at the one-yard line. However, four straight runs failed to gain any ground, and ASU turned the ball over once again on downs.

Despite the setback, ASU's defense continued to shutdown the Huskies. On the night, the Sun Devils registered five sacks and 13 tackles for loss, the latter representing the most by any ASU team under head coach Todd Graham.

Instead, the Huskies turned to their defense for scoring. 

Later in the quarter, Kelly made an ill-advised throw behind his target, and Washington's John Timu picked off the ball and raced 63 yards for the touchdown to close the gap to 10-7.

Needing some momentum, ASU's defense responded with a Jordan Simone interception of Williams. The Sun Devil drive sputtered at the Husky 10-yard line, but the field goal attempt never got off the ground. A bad snap forced holder Mike Bercovici to run, and he was taken down for a loss.

Washington responded with their best drive of the night, keyed by power running attack. Spanning 80 yards in 15 plays, the Huskies tied the game with a 23-yard field goal with just over seven minutes left in regulation.

With the game, and possibly much more, on the line, Kelly showed why he was the second team All-Pac-12 quarterback last season. He guided his offense down the field in six plays, and on the seventh, he found Gary Chambers for the go-ahead touchdown pass. On the play, Kelly evaded coverage and rolled to his right before lofting a pass into the endzone. Chambers, seeing the ball coming short, adjusting and made a leaping catch for the score.

The Huskies made a last ditch drive to tie the game, but on a fourth and 25, Williams was intercepted by Perry, whose return for a score secured the win for Arizona State. 

ASU returns home next Saturday for a critical game against Utah (6-1, 3-1) that kicks off at 8 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium. The winner will control their own destiny in the race for the division title.

Notes and Stats

  • Kelly moved past Jake Plummer (8,711) for third on ASU's all-time total offense list with 8,833 total yards. His 65 touchdown passes are now fourth most in school history.
  • ASU is now 19-5 over their last 24 games, a mark second only to Oregon in the Pac-12.
  • Graham joins John Cooper as the only coaches in ASU history to become bowl eligible in their first three seasons in Tempe.
  • Saturday marked the Sun Devils' ninth consecutive win over the Huskies. The last time Washington beat ASU was 2001.
  • ASU is now 21-0 when leading at halftime under Graham.