Next week, House of Sparky will begin our "#SunDevilMoments" tournament, featuring the 16 best moments from the athletic season. This week, we will introduce all 16 seeds, then reveal our match-ups where you, the reader, will vote on what was the ASU athletics Moment of the Year.
The Sun Devils were working hard to maintain their advantage over 24-10 lead over the New Mexico Lobos when they were faced with a third-and-10 dilemma pitted at their own 7-yard line, one minute into the fourth quarter.
After struggling with lowly Cal Poly just a week before, in just its third game of the season, ASU desperately needed a play to spark a run to the finish line. That's when sophomore running back Demario Richard and senior quarterback Mike Bercovici linked up for what turned out to be a record-setting play.
A quarter before, Bercovici found Richard on a pattened slip-screen call by then-offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, as the tailback followed a cavalcade of blockers 33 yards into the end zone, giving ASU a 17-0 lead. This time, despite holding a two-possession advantage, Norvell made an aggressive playcall which sent three receivers downfield past the first-down marker, providing Bercovici -- whose dropback carried him into his own end zone -- two underneath options: Richard and Tim White.
Initially, Bercovici allowed time for his deeper targets to garner separation, but to no avail. He then stepped up to the left of the pocket to avoid traffic and eyed Richard, who was now entering the vertical phase of a wheel route uncovered. Bercovici fired to a wide-open Richard, who raced down the sideline, picking up a downfield block from Ellis Jefferson before coasting into the end-zone.
Relief and jubilation, along with a needed and immediate injection of energy entered Sun Devil Stadium.
Not only did the Sun Devils grow their lead to 31-10 and eventually win the contest, but on that play Richard also broke the program record for most receiving yards by a running back in a single game (151) on just four receptions (seven targets).
The performance even bested teammate DJ Foster's career best single-game receiving total (107 yards vs UCLA, 2012), exemplifying just the type of potential "Baby Beast Mode" has.
Richard's ability as a receiver is something new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has made a point of utilizing throughout the spring, and with plays like this one, it's clear to see why.
You can watch the play unfold at the 0:39 mark of this video.