Tight end Chris Coyle #87 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates after scoring a 33 yard touchdown reception against the Sacramento State Hornets during the second quarter of the game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 5, 2013 in Tempe,…
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TEMPE, AZ - Taylor Kelly threw for 300 yards and matched a career high with five touchdown passes before sitting out most of the second half, helping Arizona State open its second season under coach Todd Graham with a 55-0 rout over Sacramento State on Thursday night.
The Sun Devils opened with a 63-6 win over Northern Arizona in 2012 and quickly took care of another FCS opponent to start this season, scoring on their first five possessions while building a 42-0 halftime.
Marion Grice had a pair of touchdowns and finished with 117 total yards, and Arizona State had its first shutout since 2010 to avoid a letdown before its schedule gets a whole lot tougher.
Despite being one of two FCS teams to beat an FBS opponent each of the previous two seasons, Sacramento State (0-2) never stood much of a chance against the bigger, faster Sun Devils.
The Hornets, who lost 24-0 to San Jose State in their opener, had a good opening drive against Arizona State, but did little else after that, finishing with 167 total yards and three turnovers.
Arizona State got the Graham Era off to a solid start, winning eight games last season, including a blowout over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
The follow-up was filled with anticipation.
The Sun Devils brought back many of their key players, including Kelly, All-America defensive tackle Will Sutton and loads of playmakers who have bought into Graham's discipline-first ways.
Their task in the opener was to keep from looking past Sac State.
After this game, Arizona State faces No. 21 Wisconsin at home next week, followed by games against No. 5 Stanford, No. 25 Southern Cal and No. 14 Notre Dame.
With the Hornets' success at beating FBS schools -- Oregon State in 2011, Colorado last season -- and the eight wins by FCS schools in college football's opening weekend, the Sun Devils needed to keep their focus on the present, not their future schedule.
Sac State showed some promise on its first drive, converting four straight third downs while holding the ball for 16 plays against Arizona State's defense. All that work ended in no points, though, when Arizona State's Robert Nelson raced around the right end and blocked Justin Weldon's 33-yard field goal attempt.
The rout was on after that.
Kelly hit tight end De'Marieya Nelson on a 16-yard touchdown pass, then used a pump fake to free up Kevin Ozier for a 41-yard touchdown. Sutton recovered a fumble on the Hornets' next play from scrimmage, setting up Grice for a 6-yard touchdown run.
And the scores kept coming.
Jaelen Strong outleaped Sac State defensive back Joshua Armstrong for a 24-yard touchdown catch from Kelly.
Kelly used a pump fake on the next drive to set up Chris Coyle for a 33-yard TD over the middle.
Arizona State lost the ball on downs its next drive, but turned an interception into Kelly's fifth touchdown pass of the half, a 26-yarder to Grice out of the backfield.
The Sun Devils went into halftime with a 42-0 lead, 340 yards of offense and held the Hornets without a first down after their initial drive.
Kelly was 19 of 24 for 262 yards and matched his career high for touchdown passes by halftime. He played one series of the third quarter before sitting out the rest of the half.
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