SALT LAKE CITY — Taylor Kelly ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the fourth quarter and No. 23 Arizona State came from behind to beat Utah 20-19 on Saturday.
Sun Devils All-America defensive tackle Will Sutton sealed the victory with an interception at the line of scrimmage with 1:01 left at the Utah 25.
Stifled by Utah’s aggressive defense for most of three quarters, Kelly helped keep the Sun Devils (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 South title.
Kelly finished 19-for-31 passing for 144 yards and Marion Grice rushed 20 times for 136 yards. Grice busted through the Utah line and rumbled 38 yards to set up Kelly’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith with 2:37 to play to make it 20-19. Utah’s Trevor Reilly sacked Kelly on the 2-point conversion attempt.
Travis Wilson was 6-for-21 for 121 yards for Utah (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) and threw interceptions that ended the Utes’ last two drives. Wilson hit Sean Fitzgerald for a 12-yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the third quarter to give Utah a 19-7 lead and the Utes looked prime for a second home upset to go along with the one they sprung on Stanford last month.
But Arizona State clamped down and Kelly scored on a 2-yard keeper after leading a six-play, 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter to make it 19-14 with 13:12 left.
Arizona State has won 10 straight against Utah.
Wilson threw a long pass down the sideline to Anderson on the first play of the second half – his first completion over 8 yards — which led to Andy Phillips’ 43-yard field goal.
Utah’s defense slowed the Sun Devils’ quick-strike offense, which routinely runs more than 80 plays and rolls up more than 515 yards a game. The Utes sacked Kelly six times and allowed only one reception over 20 yards but the Sun Devil defense was even better.
When it mattered most in the fourth quarter, ASU held Utah to 17 yards and one first down.
Phillips kicked a career-long 51-yard field goal in the second quarter to boost Utah in front, 9-7 at halftime. The Devils managed just 91 yards in the first half after rolling to more than 530 yards in three straight games.
On the game’s opening possession, Kelly capped a 10-play, 71-yard drive by rolling out and dashing 10 yards for a touchdown. After that, Kelly faced wave after wave of Utah defenders until the fourth quarter.
After a Utah drive was extended due to an offside penalty, Dres Anderson bobbled a pass on a crossing route but finally collected it before crossing the goal line for an 8-yard score. The extra point try was unsuccessful. Wilson completed only one other pass in the first half.
Utah had won 49 consecutive games when leading at halftime, but now owns the longest active losing streak by one current Pac-12 program to another, dating to a 1976 win over ASU.
The Devils held Washington and Washington State to minus-3 yards rushing in the two previous games. The Utes had some success on the ground early but finished with 126 and couldn’t mount enough pressure in the pass game to pull the upset.
Dennis Erickson, who was the head coach for ASU from 2007-11, is the co-offensive coordinator for Utah. Considering Wilson’s shaky confidence, Erickson called a conservative game with 46 rushes and only 21 passes and put the game in the hands of the defense.
Playing with an injured throwing hand, Wilson is just 18-for-44 with six interceptions in the last three games.