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Kelly helps Arizona State rally past Utah

Nov 10, 2013 - 1:55 AM Salt Lake City, UT ( - Taylor Kelly's 14-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith with 2:37 remaining completed a fourth-quarter comeback that lifted No. 23 Arizona State to a hard-earned 20-19 decision over Utah in a Pac-12 matchup.

Kelly added a pair of rushing touchdowns in addition to completing 19-of-31 throws for 144 yards. Marion Grice ran for 136 yards on 20 carries to help Arizona State (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) rally from a 19-7 deficit and maintain a one- game lead atop the South Division.

"To come in here and to win the way we did is going to help our team tremendously," Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham remarked. "Our players, the character they showed, they did a great job today."

Travis Wilson tossed two touchdown passes for Utah (4-5, 1-5), but had two late interceptions and went just 6-of-21 for 121 yards through the air. Dres Anderson compiled 100 yards and a touchdown on four catches in the loss, the third straight for the Utes following their upset of fifth-ranked Stanford on Oct. 12.

Utah mustered just 247 total yards and generated only one first down in six drives after building a 12-point lead on Sean Fitzgerald's 12-yard touchdown grab with 5:19 left in the third quarter.

"We couldn't protect a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and that was really disappointing," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "Arizona State is a good football program and I give them a lot of credit. They made a lot of plays down the stretch and we did not."

An ASU attack that piled up over 500 yards and at least 53 points in three consecutive conference wins coming in was held down by the Utes for much of the game, but finally got untracked early in the fourth quarter.

Two big runs by Grice and a defensive pass interference penalty got the Sun Devils deep into Utah territory before Kelly connected with Chris Coyle for a 22-yard gain to the 2-yard line. The junior quarterback then went in untouched on a read option on the next snap to pull Arizona State within 19-14 with 13:12 left.

The Sun Devil defense continued to stifle the Utes to keep it a one-score affair, and Kelly led another touchdown drive with time winding down to put his team in front.

Grice ripped off a 38-yard run to the Utah 27 with under four minutes to go and Kelly got 13 more on a keeper to get the Sun Devils closer. After a short pass to Smith went for no gain, the duo teamed up again, with Smith shaking off a defender at the 4-yard line and crossing the goal line for the go-ahead score. A 2-point conversion attempt was broken up to leave Arizona State's edge at 20-19.

The Utes twice got the ball back after Smith's touchdown, but Wilson was picked off on both possessions.

Arizona State's offense started out potent, moving 71 yards in 10 plays on the game's initial series and grabbing a quick 7-0 lead when Kelly tucked and ran for a 10-yard touchdown on third down.

The Sun Devils' next three trips resulted in a pair of three-and-outs and Deantre Lewis' lost fumble in Utah territory, and the Utes put together a pair of scoring drives to forge ahead.

Bubba Poole and Wilson did most of the damage on the ground during a methodical 15-play, 63-yard jaunt capped by Anderson's one-handed 8-yard touchdown grab while going over the middle late in the first quarter. The Utes faked the ensuing point-after try, but the Sun Devils stuffed Trevor Reilly short of the goal line for what turned out to be a pivotal stop.

Arizona State had forced the Utes to settle for an Andy Phillips 30-yard field goal earlier in the sequence, but an offsides penalty created a 4th-and-1 that Poole converted from the Sun Devils' seven.

Wilson scrambled for 21 yards on 3rd-and-10 to set up Utah's go-ahead score, a career-long 51-yard field goal that Phillips knocked through for a 9-7 edge with 9:15 left in the half.

The Utes maintained that two-point differential into the break by limiting the Sun Devils to 94 total yards over the first two quarters.

"I haven't seen the film, but that's the best that we've been defended," said Graham. "[Utah] did a tremendous job. We had a lot of negative yardage plays. They did a great job keeping us out of rhythm."

Reilly managed only 10 passing yards prior to intermission, but connected with Anderson for a 35-yard gain on the opening play of the second half. Poole later powered through for four yards on 3rd-and-3 to put Utah in position for another Phillips field goal, this one a 43-yarder that extended the margin to five points.

After another ASU drive stalled, Anderson got behind the defense to haul in Reilly's 55-yard deep strike to place the Utes inside the Sun Devils' 15 midway through the third quarter. Two plays afterward, Fitzgerald pulled down Wilson's back-shoulder throw for a 12-yard touchdown that put Arizona State in a 19-7 hole.

Game Notes

The Sun Devils finished with a season-low 293 total yards ... Utah offensive coordinator and former ASU head coach Dennis Erickson faced his former employers for the first time since his dismissal after the 2011 season ... Kelly has rushed for seven touchdowns during the Sun Devils' four-game win streak ... Arizona State forced a turnover for the 23rd consecutive game, the third longest active streak in FBS ... The Sun Devils have won the last 10 meetings between the schools.