TEMPE, Ariz. — Washington forced Arizona State into a quick punt on its first possession and methodically marched down the field for a touchdown right after that.
Then it got ugly.
No one could block, no one could tackle and the game quickly got out of hand, sending the 20th-ranked Huskies to their third straight loss.
“That was embarrassing,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said after his team’s 53-24 loss to the Sun Devils on Saturday.
It sure was.
Facing a team that has had trouble stopping the run the past two seasons, Washington never was able give Bishop Sankey any running room.
The nation’s leading rusher at 150 yards per game coming in, he found the running lanes clogged with Arizona State defenders and was repeatedly hit in the backfield by the Sun Devils, finishing with 22 yards on 13 carries. Washington ended up with minus-5 yards on 25 carries, matching the second-fewest ASU has allowed since 1996.
It wasn’t just the running game.
Arizona State knocked around Huskies quarterback Keith Price and finished with 12 tackles for loss, including seven sacks against a team that had allowed 12 in its first six games combined. The nation’s eighth-best offense entering the game, Washington finished with 212 total yards — 314 below its average.
“We weren’t good enough, we weren’t well enough coached, we didn’t perform well enough and we weren’t physical enough, nearly physical enough, against a good football team,” Sarkisian said
Arizona State’s offense was just as overwhelming.
The Huskies (4-3, 1-3) were worried about Taylor Kelly’s legs as much as his arm and Arizona State’s quarterback still hurt them with both. He threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 84 yards and two more scores.
Marion Grice did what he does best, scoring three touchdowns — that’s 18 already this season — while running for 161 yards on 22 carries. The nation’s leading scorer had two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter and had a spectacular TD catch that triggered Arizona State’s 26-point second quarter.
Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals, extending his streak to 11 straight, and Arizona State racked up 585 yards while scoring its most points ever against the Huskies.
“Man, what an impressive performance; it might be the most impressive performance that we’ve had as a team since I’ve been here,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. “We’ve got a heck of a football team and I love watching them. Man, it’s exciting to watch.”
Not for the Huskies.
They appeared to be in good shape at the start, moving 60 yards in 11 plays for a 1-yard touchdown run by Sankey on its opening possession.
It was almost all Arizona State after that.
After settling for Gonzalez’s first field goal in the first quarter, Grice opened the second with a highlight-reel touchdown, pulling down a one-handed, 15-yard pass while falling along the sideline. Gonzalez followed with two more field goals, Kelly scored on a 1-yard dive and the Sun Devils put together a quick-hitting drive in the final minute of the first half, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Coyle that put them up 29-7.
Good as Arizona State’s offense was, its D was even better.
The Sun Devils clogged up all running lanes against Sankey, meeting him with multiple tacklers often before he even reached the line of scrimmage. He had 11 yards on nine carries at halftime.
Price didn’t do much to offset the Huskies’ ground struggles, getting several passes swatted down early and repeatedly overthrowing receivers while facing constant pressure.
Washington had 74 total yards on 36 plays and went three-and-out six times in the first half after doing it nine times in the first six games combined.
“We obviously had a great first drive,’” Sarkisian said. “I felt we could’ve moved the ball better than we did today, that’s for sure.”
The Huskies finally showed some life to start the second half with Kevin Smith catching a pass from Price over the middle and turning it into a 70-yard touchdown.
Turned out to be just a blip in the Sun Devils’ runaway.
Arizona State answered with an 11-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped by a spinning 1-yard touchdown run by Kelly. Grice followed with a 1-yard scoring run and another from 14 yards out to give Arizona State a 53-24 lead.
“We beat a really good football team,” Graham said. “We dominated a really good football team tonight.”