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ASU’s Kalen Ballage ties NCAA record with 8 TDs

Arizona State's Kalen Ballage (7) runs with the ball as Texas Tech's Luke Stice, right, comes in for the tackle during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Texas Tech 68-55. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Kalen Ballage walked into ASU’s Dutson Theater for his postgame interview and immediately set to work, finding extra chairs for all of his offensive linemen.

“Make yourselves comfortable,” he told them. “I’ll just stand here.”

It was the only time Ballage stood still all of Saturday night.

The Arizona State running back set school and Pac-12 records (rushing and total) and tied an NCAA record held by Illinois’ Howard Griffith with eight touchdowns (seven rushing) in a 68-55 win over Texas Tech at Sun Devil Stadium. He also tied the FBS record for TDs in a quarter with four in the second frame.

Six of Ballage’s eight TDs came via direct snap in one of many interesting wrinkles that offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey folded into the game plan against the Red Raiders. The other scores came on a 39-yard flea flicker from QB Manny Wilkins and a 75-yard run that gave ASU a 65-48 lead with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 137 rushing yards on 13 carries and 48 receiving yards on two catches.

After the game, the Pac-12 ran a montage of all eight scores and Ballage was asked if he had ever experienced a similar performance.

“Pop Warner, it happened a lot actually, but this is college football and that’s big,” Ballage said. “I just give all the glory to God and these guys right here. Every single day we go to work — every lift every practice, everything we do, we’ve been focusing and it showed.”

Ballage was part of an ASU offense that amassed 301 rushing yards and 652 yards overall — a stark contrast to the struggles the offense experienced in a Week 1 win over Northern Arizona.

“It’s hard to really point out individuals in a win like that,” said head coach Todd Graham before turning his attention to Ballage. “Kalen is a guy who is just now figuring out how powerful and explosive he can really be, and I think tonight he began to scratch that surface really well.”

The last time ASU played a Texas team was the 2015 season opener against Texas A&M in Houston. The day before that game, Ballage was diagnosed with mononucleosis and was sent home.

“This year is amazing and honestly what feels even better is all that stuff is in the past,” he said. “When you have injuries or illnesses, you get down on yourself, you really do, and your confidence isn’t where it should be.

“These guys picked me up and helped me get to where I needed to be and I’m there now. They picked me up and told me season after season… now we’re in a position to where we’re a good football team and we’re going to keep winning football games.”

Ballage said he had no idea he was approaching or eclipsing records as he kept finding the end zone.

“To be honest, I really don’t care about it,” he said. “I want to win football games and that’s what this is about to me and that is what happened tonight and scoring eight touchdowns wasn’t a part of the plan at all, I just wanted to win the football game and we ended up doing that.

ASU needed all eight of those touchdowns in a wild game that set a school record for most combined points in a game at 123, eclipsing last season’s 61-55 triple overtime loss to Oregon.

“We kept coming to the sideline and talking to each other, saying ‘their offense is great,'” Ballage said. “They put on a great show but our defense got a couple of stops and we tried to capitalize on it as much as we could. We got out there and said ‘we are going to have to be unstoppable every time we touched the field’ and that’s what we ended up doing.”


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