Arizona St holds off UCLA, wins Pac-12 South
NOV 23, 2013 6:24p ET
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Taylor Kelly passed for 225 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 99 yards and another score, and No. 19 Arizona State hung on in the fourth quarter to clinch its first Pac-12 South title with a 38-33 victory over No. 14 UCLA on Saturday night.
Marion Grice had 95 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving for the surging Sun Devils (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12), who will face Stanford in the league title game in two weeks. If Arizona State beats Arizona in the Territorial Cup game next week, the Sun Devils will host the Cardinal.
Jaelen Strong had six catches for 91 yards and a score, but Arizona State blew most of a 22-point halftime lead over the Bruins (8-3, 5-3) and scored just three points in the second half. The Sun Devils' defense held UCLA scoreless on its final two drives to wrap up their sixth consecutive victory.
Brett Hundley passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns for UCLA, which hadn't lost at home this season. Myles Jack rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown while the freshman linebacker played almost exclusively on offense.
UCLA trailed 38-27 entering the fourth quarter, but Shaq Evans caught a 27-yard TD pass with 11:25 to play. The Bruins drove to the Arizona State 6 in the waning minutes, but Chris Young sacked Hundley for a 13-yard loss before Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.
UCLA got the ball back at its 35 with 3:21 to play. Evans crossed midfield with a catch on fourth-and-5, but the penalty-prone Bruins committed three fouls on the next two snaps, and Hundley's fourth-down pass to Jordan Payton fell well short of a first down.
In the schools' first meeting as two ranked teams since 1986, Arizona State earned the right to play for its first New Year's Day trip to the Rose Bowl in 17 years by dominating the Bruins for a half on that same Pasadena turf.
The Sun Devils lost 42-28 to Stanford on Sept. 21, but they've met every challenge down the stretch in coach Todd Graham's second season in Tempe, culminating in this resilient win over the Pac-12 South's champion in each of the last two seasons.
Arizona State's victory capped a huge football Saturday for the Grand Canyon State after Arizona's stunning blowout of No. 5 Oregon -- and it means next week's local derby will be for more than bragging rights.
Carl Bradford returned an interception 18 yards for an early score by Arizona State, which racked up 357 yards while taking a 35-13 lead in a dynamic first half.
UCLA had to win its regular-season home finale to have any shot at returning to Pasadena on New Year's Day, but the Bruins couldn't overcome their dismal start despite repeatedly getting outstanding field position from Ishmael Adams, who had 234 total yards in kick returns.
Arizona State opened with a flourish, making a 76-yard drive just 2 minutes from the opening kickoff capped by Kelly's 3-yard TD run. UCLA promptly answered with Adams' first long kick return and a 42-yard TD pass to Devin Lucien on Hundley's first snap.
But the Sun Devils reeled off four touchdowns in the last 16 minutes of the first half, including TD runs by D.J. Foster and Michael Eubank. Bradford made Arizona State's biggest defensive play on the first snap of the second quarter, stepping in front of a short swing pass by Hundley and returning it for a score.
UCLA struggled offensively despite its good field position, with Hundley looking skittish in the pocket and an offensive line with three freshman starters laboring against Arizona State's veteran defense.
Arizona State drove 62 yards in just 35 seconds during the final minute of the half, with Strong making a 19-yard TD grab with 5 seconds to play for a 22-point lead. The Bruins and their fans appeared stunned, while the Sun Devils fairly floated off the field.
But the Bruins gathered themselves at halftime and made a lengthy drive capped by Jack's TD to open the second half. Arizona State then botched a long snap on a punt, and Paul Perkins completed a 15-yard drive with a 1-yard score, abruptly trimming the deficit to 35-27.
Arizona State kicked a short field goal late in the third, but UCLA converted on fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter with a pass to freshman defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes before Evans' catch-and-run for a score. Hundley's 2-point conversion pass was tipped and intercepted.