TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Marion Grice scored two of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Arizona State survived a bizarre ending to beat No. 20 Wisconsin 32-30 on Saturday night.
Grice scored on a 1-yard run in the closing seconds of the third quarter, then on runs of 2 and 12 yards in the fourth to put ASU (2-0) up 32-24.
Wisconsin (2-1) used a fake punt in the fourth quarter to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon but still trailed 32-30 when its 2-point conversion failed.
The Badgers then drove to the Sun Devils’ 13-yard line in the final minute, and Joel Stave took a knee to set up a potential winning field goal. He put the ball down as he tried to kneel and left it there, causing confusion as to whether the play was dead. The clock kept running, with the officials not spotting the ball to give Wisconsin a chance to spike it, and the Badgers couldn’t get another play off after scrambling back to the line of scrimmage.
Gordon ran for 193 yards on 15 carries, but the game will be remembered for its strange ending.
Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly hit 29 of 51 passes — many of those on back-shoulder throws along the sideline — for 352 yards and a touchdown. Grice finished with 84 yards on 22 carries to help ASU kick off a brutal stretch of schedule with a big nonconference win.
After opening with easy victories, the first real test of the season for both teams generated quite a buzz. Maybe not up there with the Alabama-Texas A&M tilt in College Station, but enough to draw a crowd of 66,155, most of them dressed in black to create a blackout in the desert.
Despite the raucous atmosphere, the Sun Devils had trouble getting out of their own way. They failed on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line on their opening drive and had numerous dropped passes and miscues. A big one came in the second quarter, when punter Dom Vizzare compounded a bad snap by failing to fall on the football, giving Wisconsin’s Beau Allen a chance to pull it out of a scramble for a touchdown that put the Badgers up 14-3.
Grice scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but the Sun Devils twice had to settle for field goals after driving deep into Wisconsin’s end.
Wisconsin rushed for three yards in six carries in the first quarter before finding a rhythm offensively on a scoring drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Stave to Jacob Pedersen early in the second.
That was about it for the Badgers’ offense in the first half, though; they had only 101 total yards but still led 14-13.
Wisconsin extended the lead on the first play of the third quarter, when Gordon took an end-around handoff and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. The Badgers’ sixth play of 50 or more yards this season put them up 21-13.
ASU continued to have miscues in the second half, including another dropped pass and an interception by Kelly one play after the Sun Devils recovered a muffed punt.
They kept marching on Wisconsin’s defense, though. Grice capped a 91-yard drive in third quarter with his second 1-yard TD run, but the 2-point conversion failed, keeping the Badgers up 21-19.
ASU, though, followed Kyle French’s field goal with another long drive thanks to a couple of back-shoulder throws by Kelly and a pass interference call. Grice capped that one, too, bulling in for a 2-yard touchdown that put the Sun Devils up 25-24 after another 2-point conversion failed.
Grice gave ASU some cushion midway through the quarter when raced in for a 12-yard touchdown to become the first Sun Devil to run for four TDs in a game since Mike Williams against Arizona in 2002.
As it turned out, they needed the extra points … and a little good fortune during the confusing finish.