Sun Devils cruise past Buffaloes after slow start

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Rashard Ross returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game, and Taylor Kelly threw three scoring passes to tailback Marion Grice in Arizona State's 51-17 victory over Colorado on Thursday night.
Grice caught touchdown throws of 37, 16 and 20 yards from Kelly, who threw for 308 yards and five TDs with no interceptions thanks to a steady diet of successful screen passes. He also tucked it and ran for 67 yards through huge chunks of open space all night long.
The Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) will take a three-game winning streak into their showdown next week against second-ranked Oregon.
The Buffaloes (1-5, 1-2) fell to 2-1 at home in Thursday night ESPN games. They beat Stanford in 1990 and West Virginia in 2008 and trailed 20-17 in this one at the break after scoring 10 points in the final 24 seconds of the first half.
``We have a lot of momentum,'' Buffs coach Jon Embree said at halftime.
Not for long.
Ross took the kickoff a yard deep in his end zone and darted down the right sideline untouched, reaching the other end zone 11 seconds later to make it 27-17.
That jump-started a 31-0 second-half onslaught by the Sun Devils.
Grice's third touchdown, from 20 yards out, made it 34-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Just before halftime, Colorado's Jordan Webb hit tight end Nick Kasa over the middle for a 23-yard TD, and Jamal Miles fumbled the ensuing kickoff at his 17. K.T. Tu'umalo recovered for Colorado and after two shots into the end zone came up empty, Will Oliver nailed a 36-yard field goal as the first half expired.
The Sun Devils struck first when Kelly threw a screen pass to Grice, who weaved his way for a 37-yard score in the first quarter. Nate Bonsu blocked Joe Mora's extra point, leaving Arizona State with a 6-0 lead.
``That's just one less point that they have,'' Bonsu said at halftime. ``And that's huge because that could be the difference in the game.''
The Buffs couldn't keep up with the up-tempo Sun Devils to make that miss matter, however.
Alex Garoutte replaced Mora after the Sun Devils' next score and kicked his 25th PAT in 25 tries, giving Arizona State a 13-7 lead following Kelly's 34-yard strike to running back D.J. Foster.
Will Sutton's 8-yard sack of Webb helped the Sun Devils force a three-and-out and the Arizona State offense needed just three plays and 61 seconds to stretch its lead to 20-7.
Keller hit Chris Coyle for gains of 30 and 18 yards, then threw a frozen rope 16-yard touchdown pass to Grice, the ball zipping just past linebacker Jon Major's helmet as he failed to turn his head.
Mora came back to kick a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that made it 37-17, then kicked the extra point following Richard Smith's 31-yard touchdown catch.
The Sun Devils capped their 31-0 second-half onslaught with Cameron Marshall's 14-yard TD run with 3:34 left following Robert Nelson's interception.
That score came a couple of minutes after Buffs linebacker Brady Daigh was strapped to a backboard after injuring his neck on a tackle of backup quarterback Michael Eubank with 4:40 left in the game. Daigh was conscious and moving but was transported to a hospital for precautionary medical tests.
Colorado was already without starting tailback Christian Powell (thigh) and three defensive starters: free safety Ray Polk (ankle), linebacker Paul Vigo (foot) and cornerback Yuri Wright (concussion).
Arizona State's schedule gets tougher and, considering the Sun Devils lost six of their final seven games last season after a similar 5-1 start, this was a game they couldn't afford to look past, and they didn't.
Reach out to AP Sports Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:
Scoring SummaryArizona State: Marion Grice 37 yd pass from Taylor Kelly (blocked XP)Colorado: Tony Jones 2 yd run (Will Oliver kick)Arizona State: D.J. Foster 34 yd pass from Taylor Kelly (Alex Garoutte kick)Arizona State: Marion Grice 16 yd pass from Taylor Kelly (Alex Garoutte kick)Colorado: Nick Kasa 20 yd pass from Jordan Webb (Will Oliver kick)Colorado: Will Oliver 36 yd FGArizona State: Rashad Ross 100 yd kick return (Alex Garoutte kick)Arizona State: Marion Grice 20 yd pass from Taylor Kelly (Alex Garoutte kick)Arizona State: Jon Mora 38 yd FGArizona State: Richard Smith 31 yd pass from Taylor Kelly (Jon Mora kick)Arizona State: Cameron Marshall 14 yd run (Alex Garoutte kick)Team Statistics ColoradoArizona StateTOTAL FIRST DOWNS1631TOTAL NET YARDS255593Total Plays7477Average Gain3.47.7NET YARDS RUSHING75261Rushes3244Average per rush2.35.9NET YARDS PASSING180332Completions-attempted20-4223-33Sacked53Yards Lost-32-18TOTAL TURNOVERS12Interceptions10Fumbles Lost02OTHER  Penalties45Penalty Yards4033Time of Possesion32:3227:28Punts92Punt Average4444Return Yards63118PassingColoradoCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT Jordan Webb2041180104.4Nick Hirschman010010.0Arizona StateCMPATTYDSTDINTYDS/ATT Taylor Kelly20283085011.0Michael Eubank3524004.8RushingColoradoATTYDSTDAVG Josh Ford73805.4Tony Jones93714.1D.D. Goodson111011.0Malcolm Creer2402.0Nick Hirschman1303.0Vincent Hobbs1202.0Gerald Thomas2000.0Jordan Webb9-200-2.2Arizona StateATTYDSTDAVG Cameron Marshall139817.5Taylor Kelly146704.8D.J. Foster96106.8Michael Eubank32307.7Jamal Miles2703.5Richard Smith1606.0Marion Grice1000.0Kyle Middlebrooks1-10-1.0ReceivingColoradoATTYDSTDAVG Nick Kasa471117.8 Nelson Spruce331010.3 Kyle Slavin32006.7 Dustin Ebner31705.7 Gerald Thomas228014.0 Vincent Hobbs2703.5 Tony Jones2100.5 Tyler McCulloch1505.0 Arizona StateATTYDSTDAVG D.J. Foster671111.8 Marion Grice5101320.2 Richard Smith451112.8 Chris Coyle248024.0 Kevin Ozier223011.5 Rashad Ross223011.5 Darwin Rodgers120020.0 Cameron Marshall1-50-5.0