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First half recap: ASU leads Utah 13-6

What happened in the first half?

Ralph Freso

The first half was mostly a war of attrition as Arizona State traded field goals, but thanks to a Jaelen Strong touchdown, the Sun Devils find themselves up 13-6 at the half.

Utah won the toss and elected to defer, making the Sun Devils start with the ball on their own 25-yard line. Taylor Kelly quickly completed a 29-yard pass to Gary Chambers down to the Utah 43-yard line for 26 yards. D.J Foster then gained 23 yards down to the Utah 14-yard line. Kalen Ballage carried the ball another 12 yards down to the Ute three. A false start by right tackle Tyler Sulka moved the Sun Devils back five yards and Arizona State couldn't find the end zone targeting Jaelen Strong twice. Zane Gonzalez knocked a field goal through from 20 yards out to give the Sun Devils an early 3-0 lead.

The Utes began their first drive at their own 15 and a 9-yard run by Travis Wilson got them out past the 40-yard line, but a holding penalty and a huge sack by Marcus Hardison on third down stunted the Utes drive. They were forced to punt and took over at their own 15-yard line.

Demario Richard gained 22 yards out to the 36-yard line. A Cameron Smith catch for 13 yards moved ASU across midfield to the Utah 39 yard line. The Sun Devils got one more first down, but couldn't advance any further allowing Gonzalez to kick another field goal, this time from 45 yards out, giving Arizona State a 6-0 lead.

The Arizona State special teams stood Kaelin Clay up at the 15-yard line, but Utah didn't move at all as they were forced to punt again and the Sun Devils began the next drive at their own 37-yard line. Taylor Kelly used his feet for a gain of nine yards and Fred Gammage drew a pass interference call, moving the Sun Devils across midfield. A holding penalty moved the maroon and gold back but a Deantre Lewis catch for five yards to the Utah 47-yard line ended the first quarter.

Kelly completed a pass to Foster short of the first down, but Kelly nailed a pooch punt down inside the Utah 5-yard line. The Utes failed to move the ball as Jaxon Hood batted the ball on third down and Utah was forced to punt for the third straight drive and the Sun Devils had great field position on the Utah 43-yard line with 13:17 to play in the half. Kelly made his first true mistake of the game on the next drive, throwing an interception returned for seven yards by Gionni Paul to their own 40-yard line.

Utah took the momentum on the next drive, as Travis Wilson ran across midfield and Devontae Booker ran for 16 yards down to the Sun Devils' 40-yard line. Damarious Randall wrapped up Kaelin Clay stopping the Utes drive, but Andy Phillips made a 50-yard field goal to bring the Utes to within three points with 9:13 to play in the half.

The Sun Devils kicked it into overdrive on the next drive. It was highlighted by a long 32-yard run by Demario Richard and a 32-yard catch by Jaelen Strong. Kelly and Strong connected again for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Sun Devils the 13-3 lead with 7:13 to play in the half.

Utah slowly inched their way out to the 47-yard line on the next drive before Armand Perry sacked Wilson to stunt the drive for another Utah three and out and ensuing punt. Arizona State started the next drive on their own 47-yard line and D.J. Foster helped the Sun Devils cause with a 20-yard run but Zane Gonzalez proceeded to miss the ensuing 50-yard field goal.

Utah took advantage on their next drive as time wore down, chipping away with small rushes from Wilson and Booker down to the Sun Devils 19-yard line where the the Utes' Andy Phillips then made a 36-yard field goal to send the game to halftime with the Sun Devils up 13-6 at halftime.