Arizona St. 63, N. Arizona 6

Marion Grice ran for three touchdowns, Taylor Kelly was

efficient in his desert debut and Arizona State opened the Todd

Graham era with a 63-6 rout over Northern Arizona Thursday


The Sun Devils overwhelmed Northern Arizona from the opening

kickoff, forcing three turnovers and running for five touchdowns

while building a 42-0 halftime lead.

Kelly, Arizona State’s fourth quarterback in as many years,

looked as he’d been under center all along, throwing for 247 yards

and a touchdown.

Cameron Marshall had two of Arizona State’s seven rushing

touchdowns, both in the first quarter, and the Sun Devils rolled up

554 yards of offense while scoring their most points since


Arizona State just as dominant defensively, knocking out

Northern Arizona’s quarterback and leading rusher in the first


It was a nice start for Graham, who wasn’t the most popular

choice to lead Arizona State after Dennis Erickson was fired.

The high-octane Texan has been a winner nearly everywhere he has

gone, but has a penchant for not sticking around, including a

one-year stint at Pittsburgh before moving on to ASU.

Graham soothed concerns about his commitment with an all-out

charm blitz, shaking hands and speaking with as many ASU and

supporters as he could. He gave the entire program a makeover, from

the style of play to the look of the football offices.

Graham also infused Arizona State with a much-needed jolt of

discipline, turning what had been a freewheeling program into a

yes-sir, no-sir operation. He stuck to his my-way-or-don’t-play

guns for the opener, sitting top receiver Jamal Miles and running

back James Morrison for ”not meeting a team standard.”

Graham’s grand plan created a buzz in the desert, giving the Sun

Devils a profile they haven’t had in a while.

All that was left to do was win games.

Facing NAU figured to be an easy start, even without Miles.

The Lumberjacks are solid offensively, led by running back Zach

Bauman and quarterback Cary Grossart, and are expected to be better

defensively after coach Jerome Souers brought in 12 transfers.

Still, the Sun Devils are bigger, faster and have more depth

than Northern Arizona, which hasn’t beaten an FBS opponent since


It went about as expected.

Led by Graham, sporting a sleeveless windbreaker in the desert

heat and a telemarketer-style headset, the Sun Devils ran past and

over the Lumberjacks on both sides of the ball.

Kelly was sharp after winning a three-way battle as the starter

that lasted late into fall camp, making good decisions while

hitting 15 of 19 passes.

When it came time to score, though, the Sun Devils went to the

ground – a staple of Graham-led offenses.

Marshall ran in a 9-yarder to cap Arizona State’s first drive,

becoming the fourth player in school history with 30 career rushing

touchdowns. He made it 31 the next possession, diving in from 1

yard out on a fourth down. D.J. Foster followed with 1-yard

touchdown run early in the second quarter, and Grice added another

to make it 35-0 midway through, set up by a 50-yard pass from Kelly

to Rashad Ross.

Arizona State’s defense hammered Northern Arizona throughout the

first half, knocking Bauman (head) and Grossart (knee) out in the

second quarter while forcing three interceptions.

Linebacker Brandon Magee, back after missing last season with a

torn Achilles tendon, returned one of the picks 45 yards for a

touchdown just before Grice’s TD. Alden Darby later intercepted a

pass by Chase Cartwright and returned it 50 yards, setting up

Arizona State’s fourth 1-yard TD run of the half, this one by

quarterback Michael Eubank that made it 42-0.

Arizona State had a 356-92 advantage in total yards in the first

half and kept rolling in the second, getting a pair of 4-yard

touchdowns from Grice and a 7-yard scoring pass from Kelly to

Richard Smith.