TEMPE, Ariz. — Taylor Kelly completed 23-of-31 passes for 300 yards and five first half touchdowns and Arizona State opened its season with a 55-0 win over Sacramento State on Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 0-2 overall with both defeats coming against teams who played in bowl games last season.
Kelly connected on strikes of 16 and 41 yards in the first quarter to give ASU an early 14-0 lead. The team then scored 28 points in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run from Marion Grice coming before Kelly threw three more scores. The first came on a 24-yard pass to Jaelan Strong, the second to tight end Chris Coyle for 33 yards before Grice caught a 26-yard pass to end the half.
Sacramento State opened the game with an impressive drive which chewed 7:45 off the clock and used 16 plays to cover 59 yards. During the drive, the team picked up four first downs but came away empty-handed when Jesse Aguilar's 33-yard attempt was blocked.
The Sun Devil defense clamped down following that possession, limiting the Hornets to 45 yards and forcing a pair of turnovers in the remainder of the half and holding the team to just two more first downs for the rest of the game.
ASU added to its point total in the third quarter when Zane Gonzalez converted a 40-yard field goal and backup quarterback Michael Eubank scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown run. Gonzalez tacked on a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Arizona State outgained Sacramento State, 523-167, and limited the Hornets to just six first downs while tallying 27 of their own.
Safron finished the game 11-of-21 for 111 yards with two interceptions before giving way to true freshman Jihad Vercher in the third quarter. Vercher was 1-of-2 for five yards.
Morris Norrise led all Hornets with six receptions for 50 yards. Norrise played a big role in the opening drive with four catches. The senior raised his career total to 1,884 yards to pass Mike Carter and Lamont Webb to take over second place in school history.
Defensively, true freshman Russell Smith and senior Osagie Odiase each cracked double digits in tackles. Smith led all players in the game with 14 tackles, including 10 solos, while Odiase had 10 stops with nine solos.
Grice finished with 59 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards to lead the Sun Devils in both categories.
Sacramento State will host Southern Oregon for its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 6:05 p.m.