The difference between a T-bone steak and a tuna sandwich for dinner came down to just six inches Saturday afternoon in front of an Arizona State spring game record crowd of 8,456 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Quarterback Mike Bercovici lined up in the shotgun on fourth down in the overtime session but couldn't move the sticks getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage and giving Taylor Kelly's maroon team the 29-23 win.
This year's spring game included a new format in which the teams started the day off with a series of drills to accumulate points before the scrimmage began. The maroon team won the fabled "W" drill as well as the team run and 7-on-7 drills while the gold team took its three points in the offensive and defensive line drills.
"It was a good day," head coach Todd Graham said. "I liked the format that we did because it created more competition."
The highlight of the afternoon came on the maroon team's first play from scrimmage when Taylor Kelly completed a long 62-yard pass to Jaelen Strong which led to a Deantre Lewis touchdown run from two yards out putting maroon up 16-3 with 12:04 remaining in the first quarter.
"I thought Taylor Kelly really looked good today, really managed the offense and was very much in command of things," head coach Todd Graham said.
The signal caller completed 7 of 22 passes for 92 yards and one touchdown.
"You know, I thought both teams did a great job offensively," Kelly said. " We came out right at the beginning and hit a big couple shots. De'Marieya (Nelson) and Jaelen had a couple great catches and put them in for scores."
Damarious Randall then picked off a Bercovici pass which the maroon team once again converted into points. Kelly connected on a five-yard touchdown pass to De'Marieya Nelson to build the maroon lead to 23-3. Randall had the interception, one pass break up and a tackle in the game.
"Our defense showed you know they came out to play Damarious had that pick, Salamo (Fiso) almost had a couple picks so they did a great job I felt like it was just a great competition all week," Kelly said.
The gold team then began to show some life. Bercovici led his team on a six-play, 75-yard drive and then connected with D.J. Foster on the 35-yard touchdown pass but the extra point was blocked cutting the maroon lead to 23-9 with 3:49 left to play in the first quarter.
"D.J. was frustrated with me, he did some good things wanted to play more. I thought he did some good things," Graham said.
Foster ran three times for eight yards and caught another three balls for 67 yards and the touchdown.
"I loved it," Foster said. "I thought our guys played really hard on both sides the competitive spirit I thought that's what coach was really looking for the way we split up the teams and I thought we did a great job."
On the opening drive of the second quarter Deantre Lewis contributed another 47 yards rushing culminating in a 19-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal building the maroon lead to 26-9. Lewis ran the ball 12 times for a total of 88 yards and a touchdown but Todd Graham was critical of Lewis' play.
"I thought Deantre showed a lot of good signs today its gotta be more consistent its gotta be every down," Graham said. "I didn't like how he ran in the two quarters and I didn't like how he ran in the overtime period and that's when it counts so we just gotta be able to get him in shape to handle what we do."
After the maroon and gold exchanged six straight punts, Ellis Jefferson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bercovici to bring the score to 26-16 with 1:38 to play.
Bercovici finished his afternoon completing 11 of 24 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns but also threw the interception to Randall.
"It was fun watching those guys getting a different perspective you know what its like watching my guys out there trying to make plays," Deputy head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell said. "There is a lot of work to be done but I liked the competition, I liked the effort, and what we were able to accomplish this spring."
As the scrimmage headed into the overtime session, Zane Gonzalez hit a 23-yard field goal to extend the maroon lead to 29-16. Bercovici then hit Marcus Washington with a 21-yard pass over the middle for a gold team touchdown closing the deficit to 29-23. Gonzalez missed a 51-yard field goal just short on the maroon team's next possession to give gold a chance to win the game but Bercovici couldn't convert.
Graham and Norvell both said they were frustrated over the lack of up-tempo offense and high number of dropped balls during the game. Norvell and Taylor Kelly were both willing to admit that a lack of chemistry because the teams were switched up could have played a role in the team's missteps.
The conclusion of the spring game means the Sun Devils are finished until camp convenes in the fall with all the new faces of the 2014 class.
"I love this team, love the character we had a great spring and our program is about one thing and that's winning championships. Anything less than being Pac-12 champions is unacceptable," Graham said. "These guys understand the task ahead of them and that means we got a lot of work to do and we're excited to have the opportunity to do it."
And as for how Taylor Kelly likes his steak? "Medium," he said.