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ASU Football: Jordan Simone, DJ Foster propel Sun Devils to victory

Safety Jordan Simone and running back D.J. Foster both played exceptionally Saturday night, and they're the reason Arizona State walked out of Boulder with the win.

Doug Pensinger

Taylor Kelly's injury wasn't the the only thing to come out of Saturday night.

The starting quarterback went down for an undetermined amount of time, but the Sun Devils (3-0) won their first three games of the season for the first time since 2007. It was also the first time the team has done it while playing the first two games on the road since 1982.

One star on each side of the ball got them there: redshirt junior safety Jordan Simone on defense and junior running back D.J. Foster on offense.

Simone had the best game of his career Saturday night, topping his previous best last week against New Mexico. It was against the Lobos that he forced a fumble, then against the Buffaloes saw his own fumble, then raised it with an interception, a fourth-down stuff and leading the game in tackles.

It was Simone's first pick of his career, and also the first Arizona State interception of the season. Simone had 13 tackles, 12 solo and two for loss, which all topped any other player in the game.

"Jordan has really emerged as a playmaker," coach Todd Graham said. "He's come a long way in three weeks. I'm really, really proud of him."

In his interception, Simone ran all the way across the field, tracking the ball kicked into the clouds like it was a punt and came away with it.

A quarter later, with just over four minutes left in the half and all the momentum on the Colorado side of the field, Arizona State faced a 4th-and-1 from its own 34-yard line and punted the ball away. If there was any question on whether or not the Sun Devils should have tried going for it evaporated on the very next play, when Arizona State forced a fumble. DJ Calhoun picked it up, but it was Simone who knocked it out.

In the third quarter, with the Sun Devils leading 38-17, Colorado tried to convert on 4th-and-1 on the Arizona State 3-yard line. The Buffaloes dove up the middle and Simone was brick wall, forcing the turnover on downs.

"I'm really happy about it," Simone said. "I'm just doing what (the coaches) ask me to do, and without the other 10 guys, I'm nothing."

As for Foster, it's becoming standard for him to turn in a performance like Saturday. He ran 20 times for 147 yards and a touchdown, then caught four passes for 59 yards and another touchdowns.

"D.J., he's a warrior," Graham said. "He's obviously the go-to guy for us and he does a tremendous job. He's a big-time player and I love his leadership and how he interacts with our entire team."

If Foster keeps up performances like this, it won't be long before he gets mentioned in the postseason awards talk. And as a true team leader, he was quick to credit his teammates.

"Our O-line blocked great tonight," Foster said. "I thought our O-line brought the passion like they do every week and I'm really proud of them."

They come from different backgrounds. Foster was a highly touted prospect, and Simone had to earn his scholarship as a transfer and a walk-on. But Saturday night, they both won the game for Arizona State.