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Sun Devils overcome ‘full-fledged panic,’ adversity

(Photo: Lindsey Nelson/WCSN)

Tonight the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils won 58-23, racked up over 600 yards of offense and held a dangerous triple option rushing attack to 3.6 yards per carry against the New Mexico Lobos.

However, a troublesome second quarter for ASU raised eyebrows, as a 22-0 lead was quickly closed to 29-21 after back-to-back touchdowns by the UNM defense.

“There was full-fledged panic,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said.

The Sun Devils weathered the storm and exploded with a 26-2 second half to pull away, but it was the response to the momentum shifting in favor of the Lobos that Graham was most pleased with.

“I want adversity,” Graham said. “You can’t have greatness without adversity. It has to happen because that’s how you really get better.”

After allowing 225 yards of total offense to the Lobos in the first half, the Sun Devils buckled down and held the UNM offense to just 112 total yards in the second half, preventing them from scoring another point on offense.

“I think the only team that stopped us tonight was us,” Graham said.

On offense that was certainly true, as the Sun Devils racked up 621 total yards, the most for the team since a 62-28 win over Navy in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Leading the way for ASU on offense was running back D.J. Foster, who finished with 216 yards rushing (making him the first ASU running back since 2001 to eclipse 200 yards rushing) and 54 yards receiving, including a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

“I’m just blessed to have the [offensive] line that I do,” Foster said. “I think those guys don’t get enough credit. I’ll run behind those guys any day, any week.”

The offensive line paved the way for 423 total yards on the ground, the most rushing yards for an ASU team since they accumulated 450 against the Arizona Wildcats in 1996. Quarterback Taylor Kelly tallied 96 yards rushing on 10 attempts, while Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage, Deantre Lewis and Cameron Smith combined for 109 more on 15 total carries.

Still, it was the Foster show, as he accounted for 43 percent of the total yards in the team’s huge offensive performance.

“He’s a tremendous player,” Kelly said. “You know he’s one of the hardest working guys and it shows throughout the week. He relies on the offensive line and he’s doing everything he possibly can to set up those guys to have their best blocks.”

With 1,191 yards of total offense through two games, it’ll be a challenge for any team to slow down the Sun Devils’ offense, but it’ll be the Colorado Buffaloes that get the next chance.

Colorado finished 108th in the nation in total defense in 2013, and have stumbled out of the gates in 2014 with a 31-17 loss to Colorado State and a narrow 41-38 victory over Massachusetts.

Kickoff in Boulder, Colo. is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on Saturday, Sept. 13 and will be televised on ESPNU.

Adam Stites is a WCSN football reporter, you can reach him on twitter at @AdamStitesASU or by email at

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