Arizona State (8-5) scored early and often, on each of their first nine possessions, each taking less than three minutes, to coast to an easy 62-28 victory over Navy (8-5) in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly led the way accounting for five total touchdowns on the day with the first coming on a 16-yard pass to Rashad Ross, the first of three for Ross who only had four touchdowns coming into the game.
After holding Navy to a quick three-and-out, the Sun Devils got the ball on their own 40-yard line and ran the ball right at the Midshipmen. Junior running back Marion Grice scored from 10 yards out to put ASU up two touchdowns after just seven minutes.
Navy had some success on their second drive but came up empty-handed when freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds missed an open Gee Gee Greene in the end zone.
Kelly took the Sun Devils right back down the field and kept it himself for a one-yard rushing score right before the first quarter ended. Navy found itself down 21 points after the opening 15 minutes, a deficit hard to come back from with the triple-option offense.
Navy got on the board on a three-yard pass from Reynolds to junior receiver Matt Aiken, but the Midshipmen had no answer for ASU coach Todd Graham’s “high octane” offense. Kelly finished the half with two touchdown passes, including Ross’s second and redshirt junior Alonzo Agwuenu’s first career score.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo didn’t believe the Sun Devils’ tempo was the issue, instead pointing at ASU’s execution as the reason Navy couldn’t keep up.
The second half didn’t treat Navy any better. Robert Nelson intercepted Reynolds on the Midshipmen’s second play and Kelly hit Ross for a 50-yard touchdown catch four plays later. Ross ended the game with four receptions for 139 yards while Kelly had 349 total yards.
“Taylor’s phenomenal,” Graham said. “The core of him is team first and that’s what gives me great confidence.”
The highlight of the game for Navy came on a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown by Greene that made the score 48-14 midway through the third quarter.
However, before all was said and done, Arizona State scored touchdowns on each of their first nine possessions. Senior running back Cameron Marshall had two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, highlighted by a 33-yarder to put the Sun Devils up 62-14.
Grice, whose brother was killed last week, had a 39-yard run of his own to get his second touchdown of the game and 19 for the season. He also totaled 132 yards on the ground and was named the bowl’s Outstanding Offensive Player.
Star junior defensive tackle Will Sutton garnered the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game award to add to the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year trophy he was presented before the game.
Navy freshman Chris Swain, who had a run go for 36 yards earlier, scored a 46-yard touchdown in the 4th to make the score 62-21 and was one of the silver linings for Navy.
“The future for us is bright,” Niumatalolo said. “We just wish we could’ve finished better.”
There were a plethora of records broken in the game by Arizona State. Junior Chris Coyle broke the school’s single season receptions record for tight ends and Kelly set the ASU’s season passer rating and completion percentage records.
Kelly praised Coyle’s athleticism and mentioned Coyle has another season to break more records.
Some of the Kraft Bowl records broken by ASU included most points, most total yards, most rushing yards and most first downs by a team. They also set a team high for points scored in a bowl appearance. It was the Sun Devils’ first win in a bowl game since the 2005 Insight bowl.
“Our guys came to play today and they really dominated,” Graham said.