Sun Devils down Bears in Berkeley, 27-17
The Arizona State University football team withstood a late rally as the Sun Devils downed the California Golden Bears, 27-17, in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday afternoon.
Taylor Kelly finished the game 26-of-45 for 292 yards and three touchdowns - including a dagger late in the game to squash a Cal comeback - as the Sun Devils took home a victory at the California Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1997.
Wide receiver Kevin Ozier had two touchdowns in the game - a new career high - and his late grab and dash for a 21-yard touchdown sealed the deal for the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) as they maintained their lead at the top of the Pac-12 South Division.
With the victory, Todd Graham became just the third ASU head coach to win in their Pac-10/12 road debut. It was also the second consecutive game that the Sun Devils did not give up a turnover.
Cal (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) got a strong game out of tailback Isi Sofele as the senior finished with 15 rushes for 105 yards and a touchdown but the ASU defense wreaked havoc on senior quarterback Zach Maynard, who finished just 9-of-28 for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Leading 20-10 in the fourth quarter, ASU drove deep into Cal territory as it looked to put the game out of reach, but a high snap went over the head of Kelly and forced the Sun Devils into a third-and-29 situation. Marion Grice got ASU back into field goal range with a nice catch-and-run but Alex Garoutte's 37-yard attempt was blocked and the score remained unchanged, leaving the door open for Cal.
On the ensuing drive, Cal's C.J. Anderson rushed for a long 44-yard gain up the sideline to set up a magnificent touchdown grab by Keenan Allen from Maynard to bring the Golden Bears within three, 20-17, with 9:33 left in regulation. It was the first points given up by the ASU defense in the fourth quarter this season.
Arizona State answered the gut check admirably, however, driving 74 yards in nine plays and 3:10 on the following possession as Kelly scrambled in the pocket on a third-and-11 from the Cal 22 before finding Ozier for the game-clincher to put the Sun Devils up 10 with just over six minutes left.
Kelly's three-touchdown effort matched a career high while the ASU defense continued its stifling efforts, forcing a season-high six sacks for 46 yards. ASU had just two penalties for 20 yards while the Golden Bears had 12 for 119.
The Sun Devils got on the board first on an efficient nine-play drive on their second possession of the game, driving 67 yards and capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Darwin Rogers for the junior tight end's first career catch and touchdown.
The two teams exchanged several defensive stands before Cal evened things up on a 24-yard scamper by Sofele as the Golden Bears covered 76 yards in just three plays on the first drive of the second quarter. The Sun Devils gave up their longest pass play of the season on the drive on a short pass in the slot that Allen took 44 yards to set up the Sofele touchdown.
After exchanging punts, ASU put together on the longest drive of the season as the team took 12 plays to drive 52 yards in 4:33 to set up a 28-yard field goal to put the Sun Devils up 10-7 with 6:03 left in the half.
Several drives later, Carl Bradford forced a Sofele fumble that bounced fortuitously into the hands of Alden Darby to set up the Sun Devils inside the Golden Bear 40-yard line. Arizona State drove nine plays for 37 yards and capped off the drive with an impressive snag by Ozier on the goal line from Kelly to put ASU up 17-7 going into the half.
The two teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter to make the score 20-10 in favor of ASU to set up the decisive final frame.
The Sun Devils will enjoy their first bye week of the season next week before heading on the road for to take on Colorado in Boulder in a Thursday night showdown on Oct. 11.