TEMPE, Ariz. — How do you like your steak Taylor Kelly?
“Medium,” he said smiling.
To the victors go the spoils.
The Sun Devils third-year starting quarterback enjoyed a nice steak lunch after he helped lead the Maroon Team past the Gold Team, 29-23, before an announced Sun Devil Stadium crowd of 8,456, the largest ever to watch the annual Spring Game.
Kelly rushed for a score and threw a 60-yard pass to redshirt junior receiver Jaelen Strong to set up the second of two Deantre Lewis touchdowns.
“Deantre Lewis played a great game today. He was flying around,” Kelly said.
Added head coach Todd Graham about his redshirt senior running back, “Deantre showed a lot of good signs today. Just got to be more consistent. It’s got to be every down. I liked how he ran through the two quarters. I didn’t like how he ran in the overtime period. That’s when it counts. So, a lot of that is conditioning and we just got to get him in shape to be able to handle what we do.”
Graham this year tweaked the spring game format with team drills followed by a pair of 15-minute, running clock scrimmages and an overtime session. And rather than first team versus second team, both the roster and coaching staff were equally divided.
“The competitive spirit, I thought that’s what Coach was really looking for how we split up the teams and I thought we did a great job,” said junior running back D.J. Foster, who despite a touchdown run had tuna fish waiting for him for lunch as a member of the Gold Team.
The Maroon Team secured the victory with an overtime stop on 4th-and-1.
“Our defense showed. They came out to play. They’re doing a great job,” Kelly said. “That was the big surprise for people this offseason with how many guys we lost. But guys are stepping up. Those guys are flying around”
Redshirt senior safety Damarious Randall forced the game’s lone turnover, intercepting backup quarterback Mike Bercovici, who later redeemed himself with a touchdown pass to redshirt freshman receiver Ellis Jefferson.
Redshirt senior tight end De’Marieya Nelson ran for a score as well.
Sophomore kicker Zane Gonzalez made field goals of 14 and 23 yards but missed short on a 51-yard attempt.
“I thought Taylor Kelly really looked good today; really managed the offense and was very much in command of things,” said Graham, before adding, “Way too many dropped balls. Tempo, way too slow.”
“That’s just us getting our summer conditioning,” Kelly responded.
The Sun Devils ended 15 spring practices in good shape though redshirt freshman tight end Grant Martinez (left shoulder/neck) and redshirt senior running back Kyle Middlebrooks (right shoulder) both left the game early. Neither injury looked serious.
“We’ve got a lot of things we need to work on, but I was very pleased with the competition,” Graham said. “Love this team. Love the character. We had a great spring. Our program is about one thing and that’s winning championships. Anything less than being Pac-12 Champions is unacceptable. These guys understand the task ahead of them. That means we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re excited to get the opportunity to do it.”