1 Point-The play occurred in a Sun Devil loss
2 Points-The play changed the momentum of the game
5 Points- The play was a Sun Devil touchdown
Total: 8 Points
In the seventh week of the Arizona State football season, the Sun Devils hosted the Oregon Ducks in a highly anticipated national television affair. In the weeks leading up to the game, the Sun Devils demonstrated an enormous amount of promise as they shot out of the gates to a 5-1 start including three wins in Pac-12 play.
The Ducks represented the toughest opponent the Sun Devils would face to date, and provided the best measuring stick to find out if this Arizona State team really belonged in the Top 25.
Tensions between the respective fan bases grew ever higher as the Thursday night tilt approached. While Sparky launched a "Concerned Citizens of the Pac-12" YouTube campaign, pesky Oregon fans snuck up A Mountain and repainted the Gold "A" a heinous shade of lime green.
The stage was set for an epic clash of two of 2012's Pac-12 powers and an estimated 70,000 fans filled the seats as the Sun Devils and Ducks prepared for battle.
The Ducks received the ball first and trotted out freshman sensation Marcus Mariota to the quarterback position. Playing in his first career away game in a hostile environment, Mariota opened the game with a two-yard completion to DeAnthony Thomas before Top Play(s) number 12 struck like a bolt of lightning.
On the second play from scrimmage, Mariota aligned in shotgun formation with split backs and two receivers to his left. At the snap of the ball, Oregon right guard Mana Greig stepped forward in an effort to seal Sun Devil defensive tackle Will Sutton, but his effort was in vain.
The All-American Sutton shot right past Greig and sped into the Ducks backfield with a burst of athleticism before he extended his body towards the football. Before Mariota could execute a handoff, Sutton had ripped the football away from the Ducks and Davon Coleman recovered the loose football sending Sun Devil Stadium into total chaos.
Before the highlight clip could end or Sun Devil fans could recover from the thrilling chain of events unfolding on Frank Kush field, the Arizona State offense took the field and gave a blacked-out crowd a moment to remember.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly faked a give to Cameron Marshall, rolled right off the play-action, and delivered a strike to Sun Devil wide receiver Kevin Ozier who twisted his way into the end zone for a seemingly improbable touchdown.
In a span of 16 seconds, the spirits of Sun Devil fans everywhere soared as Will Sutton came up with a devastating turnover and Taylor Kelly tossed a beautiful touchdown pass that shocked the national TV audience.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, this thrilling series of events turned out to be the climax of a disappointing 43-21 loss to the immensely talented Oregon squad. To make matters worse, Will Sutton's penetration into the Ducks' backfield resulted in a knee injury that sidelined the brick wall on the defensive line for two games.
However, at the time of the Arizona State touchdown, the Sun Devils held a 5-1 record and a well-deserved lead over the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Sutton's athletic drive and Kelly's first-play touchdown pass serve as a reminder of how much talent this Arizona State team does possess and how they truly are building for the future.
Admittedly, we combined two plays into one to produce play No. 12 on our countdown list, but we also note that no two back-to-back plays had Sun Devil fans as excited this season until another set of back-to-back plays occurred late in the Territorial Cup game.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we unveil play No. 11 as part of our "12 Plays of Christmas" series.
For a complete list of the "12 Plays of Christmas, click here