True freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels had a solid collegiate debut going 15-for-24 for 284 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He tossed the Sun Devils first touchdown of the season in the first quarter. After cornerback Jack Jones forced a fumble on Kent State running back Jo-el Shaw, it setup a short field for the offense. Ethan Long took multiple snaps from the Sparky set to bring ASU inside the 10. After that, Daniels extended the play, he found junior running back Eno Benjamin wide open in the end zone to extend the lead to 10.
The initial score came from the foot of redshirt-sophomore Cristian Zendejas. The 35-yard field goal was Zendejas’ first career make. With the opportunity presented to him because of the Sun Devils holding out starting kicker Brandon Ruiz. He’d make two more from 31 and 40 yards out in the second half.
At halftime, ASU was the far better team but couldn’t quite separate itself. The Sun Devils led in yards 251-81 and had plenty of chances to get turnovers that didn’t roll their way.
In the second half, things got off fast for ASU. Daniels and company completed a nine-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter. Daniels scored on a one-yard read option keeper, but the running from the backs setup the touchdown. Benjamin had three carries and a catch for a total of 38 yards on the drive. Redshirt junior running back Isaiah Floyd had three straight carries for 26 yards.
The next drive, redshirt senior linebacker Khaylan Kearse-Thomas sacked Kent State backup quarterback Dustin Crum, who came in for the benched redshirt junior Woody Barrett to force a fumble inside its own 20. The offense didn’t create anything after redshirt senior George Lea recovered the ball and setup Zendejas’ second kick.
Senior wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had biggest play of the night. After Daniels got sacked the play before, offensive coordinator Rob Likens drew up a screen to Aiyuk. After grabbing the pass, Aiyuk took off like a plane on the runway for a 77-yard touchdown.
Kent State scored for the first time in the fourth quarter after reinserting Barrett at quarterback. He led an eight-play, 69-yard drive that ended in a 21-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Isaiah McKoy over sophomore safety Aashari Crosswell.
Aiyuk finished as the leading receiver with four catches, 140 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Darien Butler led the Sun Devils with seven tackles on defense.
Redshirt sophomore Michael Turk averaged 63 yards on his five kicks.
ASU will stay at home next week for a Friday night date with the Sacramento State Hornets at 7:00 p.m.