BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Taylor Kelly’s productive night was cut short by injury, and it was uncertain when he’ll be back on the field.
Kelly threw for three touchdowns and ran 50 yards for another score before leaving with a right foot injury, and No. 16 Arizona State withstood a late challenge from Colorado to beat the Buffaloes 38-24 on Saturday night.
“All is I know is he’s out tonight and we’ll evaluate it tomorrow,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said after the game. “I’m very concerned. It was tough for us tonight, that’s part of it. You have to be able to respond. This is the adversity we talk about.”
D.J Foster also had a big night for Arizona State (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12), running 20 times for 147 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown. He also had a 5-yard scoring catch among his four receptions for 59 yards.
Defensive back Jordan Simone chipped in with an interception and forced a fumble, and both turnovers led to touchdowns as Arizona State improved to 6-0 all-time against Colorado (1-2, 0-1).
Kelly completed 13 of 21 passes for 195 yards and he pulled off a beautiful fake on an option play, pulling the ball from Foster’s midsection and bolting up the middle past stunned Colorado defenders en route to the longest touchdown run of his career to give the Sun Devils a 21-point edge midway through the third quarter. Earlier, he had finished the opening drive of the second half with his third scoring pass, a 1-yarder to Jaelen Strong.
Kelly was apparently injured during the Sun Devils’ last drive of the third quarter and was taken to the locker room for the further evaluation. Mike Bercovici finished at quarterback for the Sun Devils and Kelly returned to watch the fourth quarter from the bench with his foot in a protective boot.
“I thought we finished the game,” Foster said. “Berc came in and did what he could. I thought our team had a lot of passion and that’s what I wanted to see, our team bond together when we had someone go out.”
Sefo Liufau completed 31 of 46 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns but the Buffaloes could not avoid their 15th consecutive loss to a ranked team. Two of Liufau’s scoring passes went to Nelson Spruce, the last a 31-yarder to finish off a 99-yard scoring drive, the seventh in Colorado’s history, with 8:38 remaining.
But Colorado’s bid to cut the deficit further was quashed by Liufau’s second interception, this one by linebacker Christian Sam with 4:44 left.
“We should have won that game,” Liufau said. “We had too many turnovers, too many mistakes. … The guys fought all game and you can’t take that away from us but we moved the ball up and down the field. The defense made stops. Flat-out, we should have won that game. That’s how I feel. That’s how the whole team feels.”
Trailing 17-0 little more than a quarter into the game, Colorado pulled within three points on two scoring passes by Liufau in the second quarter. Colorado’s defense then forced the Sun Devils to punt and Colorado got the ball at its 10-yard line with just under four minutes left in the second quarter.
But the Sun Devils quickly reasserted control. Simone, whose earlier interception set up an Arizona State touchdown, stripped the ball from running back Michael Adkins II and linebacker D.J. Calhoun recovered the ball at Buffaloes’ 9-yard line.
Three plays later, Kelly hit Foster in the flat and he scooted into the end zone from 5-yards out, allowing Arizona State to take a 24-14 lead at the half.
Arizona State got off to a quick start, getting a 15-yard touchdown run from Foster and a 38-yard touchdown catch from Kalen Ballage in the game’s opening minutes that was preceded by Simone’s interception.
Foster broke free on a 52-yard run setting up a 31-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez before Colorado finally got untracked as Liufau found Shay Fields for a 4-yard scoring pass and later connected with Spruce from 15 yards as the Buffaloes pulled to 17-14 with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.