Taylor Kelly, Marion Grice and the rest of the Arizona State offense put an emphatic finish on coach Todd Graham’s successful first season with the Sun Devils.
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.
Offensive MVP Marion Grice ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns for the Sun Devils (8-5), who used their fast-paced spread offense to score touchdowns on their first nine possessions.
“Our guys came to play today and dominated,” Graham said. “I’m proud of them.”
The Sun Devils won their most games since 2007 and won a bowl for the first time since the 2005 Insight Bowl against Rutgers. They also capped their season by beating rival Arizona and winning a bowl, a feat they had accomplished just once in the past 33 seasons.
“This win means a lot — 1978 is a long time,” said Rashad Ross, who caught three touchdown passes. “I’m just glad to be on this team, the team that finally did it: Beat U of A and then go on and win a bowl game.”
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.
“We opened our arms out for Marion,” Kelly said. “We’re all with him. He’s in our prayers and our family. He’s having a hard time in the locker room or he’d be out here. He’s all into this program. He wanted to come out and play for his brother and his family and also our brothers.”