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ASU Football: "The 12 Plays of Christmas" No. 11 - The Comeback Kids

For the 11th play of Christmas, we look back at one of Taylor Kelly’s marquee moments as the Sun Devil quarterback when he finds D.J. Foster in the end zone to complete an Arizona State comeback.


Play No. 11: Taylor Kelly finds D.J. Foster in the end zone to give Arizona State a late lead over the UCLA Bruins.

Point Breakdown

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

After a discouraging loss against the Oregon Ducks, Arizona State returned to action at Sun Devil Stadium with another chance to pick up a victory over a ranked opponent.

The UCLA Bruins came into town in a similar situation as the Sun Devils as first-year Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. was leading a revival in Los Angeles. For years, the Bruins had played second fiddle to the crosstown USC Trojans, and a victory over Arizona State would cement their status as a legitimate threat to the men of Troy.

Meanwhile, Coach Todd Graham had inspired faith in Arizona State fans too and a bounce back win over a resurgent UCLA program would do wonders for the fan base in Tempe. As the 5-2 teams prepared to do battle for Pac-12 South supremacy, Sun Devil Stadium was the site for what would prove to be a thrilling duel.

The Sun Devils and Bruins did not disappoint as they produced a high-octane shootout in the desert. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Bruins had assumed command of the game and led 35-26, but sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly had the Sun Devils in the right position to comeback and shock UCLA.

When Kelly connected with Marion Grice on an eight-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils cut the Bruins lead to just two points.

After UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley engineered another scoring drive, Arizona State's Jon Mora brought the Sun Devils back within six points after a 22-yard field goal.

Brandon Magee ended the Bruins' hopes of extending their lead when he sacked Hundley for a loss on UCLA's next drive and the senior gave Arizona State the chance for a momentous comeback.

With 3:36 remaining, Taylor Kelly and the offense trotted out to the Sun Devils' own 44-yard line and began to engineer a possible game-winning drive. After the Sun Devil offense picked up a first down, Kelly kept the football on a beautifully designed quarterback draw and jetted down the field for a 32 yard gain that brought the Sun Devils within 12 yards of the Bruins' end zone.

When the offense gained just five yards on the first two downs in the red zone, the Sun Devil knew they needed a big play on third down to keep their comeback hopes alive.

On third down, Kelly aligned in shotgun formation with three receivers to his right, and Marion Grice to his left in the backfield.

At the snap of the ball, Kelly faked a handoff to Grice and rolled right in hopes of finding an answer to the Sun Devil prayers. UCLA freshman Ellis McCarthy forced Kelly to drift even further out of the pocket than his designed rollout took him, but the Bruins' freshman came up a bit short in his pursuit of the Sun Devil quarterback.

Throwing off of his back foot, Kelly lofted a pass that barely cleared the hands of the a few members of the UCLA secondary, but ended up in the arms of freshman phenom D.J. Foster for the Sun Devil touchdown.

Foster, who aligned as the inside receiver in trips, ran an out route and darted across the back of the end zone just in time for Kelly to deliver the game-tying touchdown pass.

A roaring student section decked out in gold lit up Sun Devil Stadium as Taylor Kelly completed his first comeback effort as a Sun Devil quarterback. After a daring 32-yard run up the middle to put Arizona State in prime position, the sophomore found Foster on a beautiful strike that reminded everyone of Kelly's mobility and knack for making plays on the run.

Despite Kelly and Foster's heroics, the Sun Devil defense could not hold up to their end of the bargain after Alex Garoutte gave Arizona State the lead on an extra point. The Sun Devil drive that started with 3:36 on the clock lasted just 2:03 and gave the Bruins the final chance the win the game.

The team that held possession last was destined to win, and the Sun Devils made the costly fatal mistake of scoring too quickly.

While Arizona State may have suffered a heartbreaking defeat, Top Play No. 11 features a sophomore and a freshman connection that should brighten spirits in Tempe for the next few years.