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December 30, 2012

Kelly leads ASU rout over Navy

SAN FRANCISCO — Taylor Kelly threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score to lead Arizona State to its first bowl win in seven years, a 62-28 victory over Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday.

Marion Grice ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils (8-5), who used their spread offense to score touchdowns on their first nine possessions.

That helped provided a bright end to a successful first season at Arizona State for coach Todd Graham, who helped the Sun Devils win their most games since 2007 and win a bowl for the first time since the 2005 Insight Bowl against Rutgers.

The Midshipmen (8-5) have lost five of their last six bowl games. Among the few highlights for Navy were Keenan Reynolds’ 3-yard TD pass to Matt Aiken in the first half and a 95-yard kickoff return for a score by Gee Gee Greene in the third quarter.

Rashad Ross, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, started and ended the first-half outburst with touchdown receptions. His 16-yard catch from Kelly capped a 75-yard game-opening drive and he got behind the Navy defense for a 52-yard score in the final minute of the half to make it 34-7. Ross then caught a 50-yard TD pass on Arizona State’s first drive of the second half to make it 41-7.

Grice, playing with a heavy heart after his brother was murdered last week in Houston, scored on a 10-yard run in the first quarter and a 39-yarder in the third. He had 19 touchdowns this season, with 11 coming on the ground.

Much of the talk leading up to the game was how Arizona State would handle Navy’s unique triple-option offense. It turned out that the Midshipmen had much more trouble with the Sun Devils’ spread, giving up 648 yards.

Arizona State had seven touchdown drives of at least 60 yards in the first three quarters and had just three third-down plays in that span as Kelly easily picked apart the defense. The longest drive took just 2:43 and one of the quickest came at the end of the half when the Sun Devils went 80 yards in two plays covering 19 seconds after Nick Sloan missed a 33-yard field goal for Navy.

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