|ASU RB Marion Grice rebounded from family tragedy to run for a career-high 159 yards against Navy on Saturday. (US Presswire)|
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl record book is going to need a rewrite after Arizona State's performance on Saturday. Behind five total touchdowns from QB Taylor Kelly, the Sun Devils sank Navy 62-28 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The 62 points are not only the most scored in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl history, they're the most scored by a Pac-12 team in any bowl ever.
Arizona State also broke the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl records for most total yards (648) and largest margin of victory (34). In all, the Sun Devils set or tied 18 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Records.
Kelly threw touchdown passes of 16, 11 and 52 yards and also ran for a 1-yard score as Arizona State jumped out to a 34-7 halftime lead. Kelly then tacked on another touchdown pass early in the third quarter when he found WR Rashad Ross for a 50-yard score. Ross caught four passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Both the yardage total and touchdown total were career highs for Ross. Kelly finished the game 17 of 19 for 268 yards, he also added 81 yards on the ground.
Despite Kelly's gaudy numbers, the most impressive performance of the game might have come from Sun Devil RB Marion Grice. Grice missed several practices leading up to the game after his brother was shot and killed on Dec. 21. An emotional Grice returned to the field against Navy and ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Grice, who dedicated his performance to his slain brother, pointed to the sky after his first touchdown. Grice's gritty performance earned him the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl's Most Outstanding Offensive Player award.
The Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award went to Arizona State DE Will Sutton, who recorded five tackles and a team-high 2.5 sacks against the Midshipmen.
Navy's vaunted triple-option offense was held in check most of the game. However, RB Gee Gee Greene did manage to cross the 100-yard mark with 111 yards on 12 carries.
When the game turned: This game was over before the first quarter ended. With eight seconds left in the opening quarter, Kelly capped a 69-yard Arizona State drive with a 1-yard scoring run that put the Sun Devils up 21-0.
Highlight moments: Navy didn't have many highlight moments in the game, but it did have one big one in the third quarter. After an ASU touchdown, Navy KR Greene returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The return was a Navy bowl record and a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl record ... WR Ross had several highlights for Arizona State, including two touchdown catches of over 50 yards. Ross closed the scoring in the first half with a 52-yard touchdown catch, then opened the scoring in the second half with a 50-yard touchdown reception.... Despite the blowout, Navy only turned the ball over once and that came on the second play of the third quarter when DB Robert Nelson picked off Navy QB Keenan Reynolds.
Significance of Arizona State's victory: After starting the season 5-1, the Sun Devils lost four in a row and their season looked to be spiraling out of control. However, first-year coach Todd Graham rallied the troops and Arizona State was able to close the season with three straight wins, giving the program its first eight-win season since 2007, when the Sun Devils went 10-3. The three wins to end the season marked the first time since 1978 that ASU closed the year with three consecutive wins. Graham has a young nucleus coming back in 2013 and there's no reason Arizona State shouldn't be able to compete in what should be a wide-open Pac-12 South Division.
Significance of Navy's loss: The Midshipmen shouldn't be too disappointed with their loss. Before Saturday, Navy had only played two BCS conference teams with winning records this season and the Midshipmen lost those two games 50-10 (Notre Dame) and 34-7 (Penn State). The Midshipmen can hang their hat on the fact that they've played in a bowl game nine of the past 10 seasons.
- Sun Devil QB Kelly -- 17 of 19 for 268 yards and two touchdowns; seven carries for 81 yards and a TD.
- Sun Devil RB Grice -- 159 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
- Sun Devil RB Cameron Marshall -- 58 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
- Sun Devil WR Rashad Ross -- Four catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
- Sun Devil DL Sutton -- Five tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss.
- Sun Devil DL Davon Coleman -- Team-high nine tackles, including .5 sack.
- Navy RB Greene -- Team-high 112 yards on 12 carries and a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown.
What they said:
- Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo on Arizona State's performance: "They just dominated us in every aspect of the game. They had a great game plan, we just couldn't stop them."
Numbers you should know: 19. Grice will finish the 2012 season with 19 touchdowns, the fourth highest single-season total in school history... 57. ASU TE Chris Coyle caught four passes against Navy, giving him 57 for the season, breaking the school single-season record for tight ends. The previous record of 56 was held by Zach Miller... 0. That's how many times Arizona State punted against the Midshipmen.