For the second straight game, D.J. Foster went over 200 all-purpose yards and the Arizona State University football team held off a scrappy Colorado squad for a 38-24 victory on Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.
The Sun Devils (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have now won three of their last four Pac-12 openers and seven of the last 11 Pac-12 road openers.
Foster rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown and had four receptions for 59 yards and another touchdown, accounting for 206 of ASU 426 total yards of offense. He has now scored in eight straight games and has 13 touchdowns in that span.
Taylor Kelly finished 13-of-21 for 195 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game with a leg injury in the second half.
The Sun Devil defense got by on a ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality, giving up a season-high 545 yards of total offense but forced three takeaways and three turnovers on downs in the contest.
Jordan Simone paced the way with an interception, a forced fumble, a tackle that led to one of those turnovers on downs and a team-high 13 tackles. It was the fourth-highest single game tackle tally by a Todd Graham-coached defensive player at ASU and the game also marked the first time under Graham that three players recorded double-digit tackles as Damarious Randall had 11 and Antonio Longino had a career-high 10.
ASU also got it done on special teams with Matt Haack punting seven times for 337 yards and 48.1 average that ranks as the third highest single-game yards per punt average in Graham’s tenure at ASU and the most since Oct. 27, 2012 against UCLA.
Despite the effort, the Buffaloes (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12) were still very much in the game in the fourth quarter, trailing by 14 and driving into Arizona State territory with a chance to make things interesting and cut things to one possession. But Christian Sam picked up the first interception of his career with 4:44 left in regulation to stifle the CU rally.
The Sun Devils wasted little time putting some space between themselves and the Buffaloes in the second half with a big 45-yard reception by Jaelen Strong leading to a short one-yard touchdown reception and a 31-14 lead for the Sun Devils.
Colorado would answer with a field goal on the following drive but that just paved the way for an exception read-option keeper by Kelly on the following Sun Devil drive that took him 50 yards to pay dirt and a 38-17 advantage.
The Buffaloes would not go quietly into the night, however, driving nearly 80 yards to the Sun Devil three-yard-line before the Sun Devil defense clamped down to force a turnover on downs with Simone getting the decisive tackle to stump the drive.
Colorado would get back within 14 after posting just the seventh 99-yard scoring drive in program history that was capped by a 31-yard touchdown reception by Spruce to bring CU back within 38-24.
Colorado would drive against into ASU territory with under five minutes left in the game to try and cut things to a one-possession game but Sam’s interception put the game away for the Devils.
As has become the norm for Sun Devil teams in recent years, the Sun Devils came storming out of the gates and jumped to a 14-0 lead with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
ASU took its first drive of the game 69 yards and capped it with a 15-yard D.J. Foster touchdown rush for an early 7-0 lead. The drive lasted 3:07 and was the first scoring drive of the season that lasted over three minutes this season.
On the very first play of Colorado’s ensuing possession, Simone intercepted Liufau’s deep pass down the middle for the first pick of his career and ASU capitalized with a three-play, 65 yard drive in 54 seconds that culminated in a 38-yard Kalen Ballage touchdown reception to put ASU up 14-0.
ASU would add a 31-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal two drives later for a 17-0 lead with 14:12 remaining in the half but Colorado would answer with a methodical 77-yard drive over the next 3:59 to get on the board with a four-yard touchdown reception by Shay Fields to bring Colorado back within 17-7.
A Sun Devil three-and-out on the following drive set Colorado up for an eight-play, 77-yard drive and a 15-yard Nelson Spruce touchdown reception to cut the lead to three points.
ASU had its second consecutive three-and-out following the touchdown but a career-long 57-yard Matt Haack punt pinned Colorado deep in their own territory and set up a Simone forced fumble and DJ Calhoun recovery at the Colorado nine-yard-line. As the Sun Devils tend to do under Graham, the squad capitalized on a five-yard Foster reception three plays later to secure a 24-14 lead heading into the half time break.
The Sun Devils will enjoy a bye week this coming weekend before a key Pac-12 tilt against UCLA on Thursday, Sept. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on Fox Sports 1.