San Francisco, CA – Taylor Kelly threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as Arizona State won the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl with a dominating 62-28 victory over Navy at AT&T Park.
Kelly was nearly flawless in directing an Arizona State offense that was nearly unstoppable, with the Sun Devils piling up 648 total yards and scoring touchdowns on each of their first nine possessions. ASU wasn't stopped until giving the ball away on downs early in the fourth quarter with the outcome already decided.
The sophomore quarterback completed 17-of-19 passes for 268 yards, while adding 81 more on the ground on seven attempts to help give Arizona State (8-5) its first bowl victory since 2005.
The win also enabled the Sun Devils to close out the season on a three-game win streak that included a come-from-behind triumph over rival Arizona. It's the first time since 1978 in which Arizona State has bested the Wildcats and won a bowl game in the same season.
"This win means a lot - 1978 is a long time," said wide receiver Rashad Ross, who hauled in three of Kelly's scoring tosses and amassed a a career-high 139 yards on four catches. "I'm just glad to be on this team, the team that finally did it."
The Sun Devils also got two touchdowns each from running backs Marion Grice and Cameron Marshall, with Grice finishing with 159 yards on just 14 carries.
"Obviously, I'm very proud of our football team," said Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham. "We were one play from playing in the Pac-12 Championship. The guys have come an awful long way."
Gee Gee Greene and Chris Swain were the lone bright spots on an otherwise dreadful day for Navy (8-5), which had won seven of its last eight games coming in. Greene rushed for 112 yards on 12 totes and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, with Swain amassing 93 yards and a touchdown on four carries in the loss.
Arizona State began its offensive barrage by marching 75 yards in eight plays on the game's initial series, with Grice accumulating 37 yards on three consecutive rushes before Kelly hit Ross on a 16-yard slant route to put the Sun Devils ahead just 2:17 in.
It was a sign of things to come.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, Arizona State got on the scoreboard again on Grice's 10-yard run near the midway point of the first quarter. The 8-play, 60-yard sequence was highlighted by Kelly's 20-yard keeper and an 8-yard pass to DJ Foster on 3rd-and-7 that kept the chains moving and placed the Sun Devils in the red zone.
Navy would move into Arizona State territory on the ensuing series before turning the ball over on downs, then allowed the Sun Devils to find the end zone again before the opening quarter came to a close. A 14-yard catch-and-run by Grice on 3rd-and-6 put the ball on the Middies' 2, and Kelly crossed the goal line on an option read two plays later for a 21-0 ASU advantage.
"We couldn't stop them," Navy linebacker Brye French said. "Everything that they would try, they just dominated us in basically every aspect of the game. It was very frustrating, but you have to give them credit. They had a great game plan. They executed on everything. They had the deep ball, they had the run, they had the short pass."
The Midshipmen finally generated something positive on their next touch, churning out 84 yards in an 11-play sequence that featured a 36-yard run by Swain to the Sun Devils' 18. Shortly afterward, quarterback Keenan Reynolds side-stepped a blitzing defender and fired a 3-yard bullet to Matt Aiken that gave Navy its first points with 9:24 remaining in the half.
Arizona State needed just five plays and 1:21 to respond, though. Jamal Miles gave the Sun Devils excellent field position with a 41-yard return of the subsequent kickoff, and three straight Kelly completions capped by a 10-yard delivery to Alonzo Agwuenu extended the margin to 28-7.
Navy got inside the ASU 10-yard line on the following possession, but the drive would stall and come up empty when Nick Sloan pushed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide right. The Sun Devils capitalized just 19 seconds afterward, with Kelly and Ross connecting on a 52-yard score with 55 seconds left before intermission. Alex Garoutte missed the point-after try after a bad exchange, leaving the score at 34-7 entering the break.
Robert Nelson intercepted Reynolds on the second play from scrimmage of the third quarter, setting up another deep strike from Kelly to Ross that resulted in seven points. This one, from 50 yards out, came just 1:36 into the second half.
The Sun Devils were pinned deep in their own end the next time they had the ball, but again Navy couldn't come up with a stop. Six of ASU's first seven plays on its 93-yard jaunt went for 10 yards or more, with Marshall's 1-yard plunge into the end zone concluding the series and lengthening the lead to 48-7 with 6:24 to go in the third quarter.
Greene found a seam on the following kickoff and outraced the coverage team for a 95-yard score, but Arizona State had a quick response once more. The Sun Devils needed just three plays and 46 seconds to put together an eighth straight touchdown march, with Grice breaking off a 39-yard run to make the score 55-14.
Less than two minutes later, Marshall came through with a 33-yard touchdown scamper right after Miles took a punt back 37 yards deep into Navy territory.
Navy would put up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the outcome a little less lopsided. Swain got loose for a 46-yard run and reserve quarterback Trey Miller threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Brandon Turner with 5:16 remaining, following Arizona State's lone turnover of the day.
Arizona State had lost three straight postseason games since posting a 45-40 victory over Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl ... Sun Devils tight end Chris Coyle finished with four catches for 37 yards to set a program record for receptions in a season at the position (57), surpassing Zach Miller's old mark by one ... Grice ends the season with 19 total touchdowns, 11 rushing and eight receiving ... The Sun Devils outscored the opposition by a 145-63 margin in the first quarter for the year ... Navy has now lost five of its last six bowls and is 1-1 all-time in this game, having defeated New Mexico in 2004 when it was then known as the Emerald Bowl ... Graham improved to 4-1 in bowls for his career.