Northern Arizona routed 63-6 by Arizona State
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Northern Arizona was run over in its season opener, unable to keep up with a bigger, faster team.
That was probably to be expected against a team like Arizona State, but it also could help the Lumberjacks down the road.
Northern Arizona lost its quarterback and leading rushers in the first half while falling into a big hole and never recovered, opening the season with a 63-6 loss to Arizona State Thursday night.
"With their speed, they create a lot of difficult matchups for us," Northern Arizona coach Jerome Souers said. "But I think as a program, this is something that will help us in the long run.
Playing the up-tempo style new coach Todd Graham has preached since he arrived in Tempe, the Sun Devils overwhelmed Northern Arizona from the opening kickoff, forcing three turnovers and running for five touchdowns while building a 42-0 halftime lead.
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State's fourth quarterback in as many years, looked as he'd been under center all along, throwing for 247 yards and a touchdown.
Marion Grice ran for 107 yards and had three of Arizona State's seven rushing touchdowns. Cameron Marshall had two of those in the first quarter, and the Sun Devils ran for 305 yards, their most since 2001.
Arizona State had 554 total yards while scoring its most points in seven years and was just as dominant defensively, knocking out Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman and quarterback Cary Grossart in the second quarter.
There were some typical first-game miscues — a lost fumble by Marshall, a couple of defensive breakdowns in the second half — but there wasn't much else for the Sun Devils to complain about.
"When everybody was watching us, we showed up," Arizona State safety Alden Darby said.
It was a nice start for Graham, who wasn't the most popular choice to lead Arizona State after Dennis Erickson was fired.
The high-octane Texan has been a winner nearly everywhere he has gone, but has a penchant for not sticking around, including a one-year stint at Pittsburgh before moving on to ASU.
Graham soothed concerns about his commitment with an all-out charm blitz, shaking hands and speaking with as many ASU and supporters as he could. He gave the entire program a makeover, from the style of play to the look of the football offices.
Graham also infused Arizona State with a much-needed jolt of discipline, turning what had been a freewheeling program into a yes-sir, no-sir operation. He stuck to his my-way-or-don't-play guns for the opener, sitting top receiver Jamal Miles and running back James Morrison for "not meeting a team standard."
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