Arizona State trailed Washington 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. And then, the Sun Devil team everyone has been waiting to see showed up.
The Sun Devils culminated an outstanding first half performance with 29 unanswered points to take a 29-7 lead into the halftime break. Coming into the game, Washington was averaging an astounding 248 yards per game on the ground and the Huskies needed a 19-yard scamper from Keith Price on the final play of the half to break into positive numbers.
Marion Grice and company outgained Washington 117 to 12 in rushing yards and added 198 passing yards for a total of first half yards.
Arizona State opened the game on offense and went three-and-out on their opening drive. Washington started its first possession on the Huskies' own 40-yard line and needed just a short time to make some noise.
Keith Price drove the Huskies down the field with ease, aided by a Sun Devil penalty in a crucial fourth down and two situation from the Sun Devil 41-yard line. The big play from the drive came on a 23-yard reception from wide out Joshua Perkins who came open on a wheel route along the right side line.
Perkins slipped up right before the goal line, so the Huskies turned to NCAA rushing leader Bishop Sankey on the one-yard line to punch in the first touchdown of the afternoon. The score marked Sankey's 10th rushing touchdown of the season, but as we would come to find out, no one can outdo Marion Grice when it comes to finding the end zone.
The teams traded a pair of three-and-outs before the Sun Devils began to get things moving on offense for the first time on the afternoon. Taylor Kelly hit Kevin Ozier for a 13-yard pickup to give Arizona State a first down and Taylor Kelly took off for a 30-yard scramble up the right side of the field.
Ultimately, the Sun Devils couldn't punch things in when they reached the red zone as Marion Grice didn't touch the ball on the entire drive. Arizona State settled for a 26-yard field goal and narrowed the deficit to 7-3.
After putting points on the board on offense, the Sun Devil defense took the field on a mission. Led by the intensity of Carl Bradford and the defensive line, Arizona State put the full court press on Keith Price and the Washington gunslinger couldn't connect with a few open receivers on deep passes.
The Sun Devils began the second quarter with the ball and a bit of momentum and Taylor Kelly marched the offense right down the field. First, Kelly hit tight end Chris Coyle on the Arizona State sideline for a pickup of 35 yards and then, on second and 14, Kelly had a prayer answered.
The redshirt junior lofted a high pass to the corner of the end zone and Marion Grice came down with a remarkable reception. So remarkable in fact, that the officials initially ruled him out of bounds. The Pac-12 crew turned things over to the trusty replay screen and Grice was rewarded with his 16th touchdown of the season in awe-inspiring fashion.
Zane Gonzalez had his extra point blocked which left the score at 9-7, but the Sun Devils clearly seized the momentum with the score. On Washington's next series, Gannon Conway was the defensive lineman in charge of bringing the heat as his pressure forced Price into throwing a drive-stalling intentional grounding pass.
When Arizona State took over on its next possession, the offense picked up right where it left off. Unfortunately for Todd Graham's squad, red zone issues plagued another successful series as Arizona State couldn't punch it in from the three-yard line after a 26-yard catch from D.J. Foster. Zane Gonzalez connected with his ninth straight field goal to give the Sun Devils a 12-7 lead with just under half of the second quarter left to play.
The Sun Devil defense proved once again that it came to play as Arizona State stuffed Bishop Sankey on first down of the Huskies' next drive. After two more incompletions from Price, the Washington drive ended with a punt. Amazingly, through more than 23 minutes of action, Washington's rushing attack had produced -1 yards on 11 attempts.
Washington's defense came out and did its job on the next series forcing a Sun Devil three-and-out. But on the ensuing punt, Husky returner Kasen Williams muffed the ball and gunner Chris Young recovered it for the Sun Devils.
Again, the Sun Devils couldn't capitalize as they stalled in the red zone. Taylor Kelly couldn't hit a wide open Chris Coyle as he had his pass batted down at the line of scrimmage and the Sun Devils settled for a 36-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal.
After forcing the Huskies into their fifth three-and-out of the half, Arizona State took over with an opportunity to cap off a dominant first half. Following a 15-yard hands to the face penalty on Washington, Marion Grice carried for 22 yards to push the Sun Devil offense inside the 1-yard line. Then, Taylor Kelly took matters into his own hands and walked into the end zone on a perfect zone-read keeper to give the Sun Devils a 22-7 lead.
Another quick Washington drive allowed Arizona State one final first half chance, and Taylor Kelly jumped on it. He found Kevin Ozier across the middle for a 27-yard gain and then picked up a first down with his feet. Finally, Kelly capped off a quick scoring drive with a 14-yard pass to Chris Coyle who bullied his way into the end zone to give Arizona State 29 unanswered points heading into halftime.
First half standouts for Arizona State included running back-turned-wide receiver D.J. Foster who reeled in four catches for 56 yards and Devilbacker Carl Bradford. Bradford registered two tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass deflection in the first half, but his impact goes far beyond the stat sheet. The redshirt junior was a constant presence in the Husky backfield and if Keith Price decides to nap at halftime, he'll definitely have nightmares about Bradford.