College football: ASU's RB Kalen Ballage ties FBS record with 8 TDs
TEMPE, Ariz. — Junior running back Kalen Ballage tied an FBS record with eight touchdowns in Arizona State's 68-55 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
Sophomore Manny Wilkins went toe-to-toe with one of the nation's best quarterbacks, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II, as the Novato, California, native threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns in just his second career start for ASU.
With the win, ASU improved to 2-0 on the season, and 11-0 in non-conference home games in the Todd Graham era. The win also improved the Sun Devils to 2-1 all-time against the Red Raiders.
Ballage, who was responsible for eight of ASU's nine touchdowns, finished with 137 rushing yards and 48 receiving yards. Ballage's eight touchdowns tied Howard Griffith (Illinois, 1990) for the NCAA single-game touchdown record. His record-setting night also included breaking the Pac-12 record for most touchdowns scored as well as most rushing touchdowns by a single player in conference history.
His counterpart, Demario Richard, recorded 109 yards on 30 carries, while freshman wide receiver N'Keal Harry added 72 yards on six carries as ASU combined for 652 yards of total offense.
The Sun Devils got on the board first, as Wilkins threw his first career touchdown pass to Harry to put the Devils up 7-0 just five minutes into the game. The Red Raiders answered quickly to tie the game at 7-7, before a Matt Haack punt pinned Tech on their own 1-yard line. A bad snap led to an ASU safety, their first since Oct. 17, 2015, giving the Sun Devils a 9-7 lead with 5:33 to play in the first quarter.
Texas Tech regained the lead with a 59-yard pass from Mahomes to Derrick Willies to take a 14-9 lead into the second quarter.
ASU quickly responded at the start of the second quarter as Ballage rumbled his way in from the 1-yard line for his first housecall of the night. The Ballage barrage continued just two minutes later as he found himself on the receiving end of a Wilkins 39-yard touchdown pass. The Red Raiders went back-and-forth with the Devils for the remainder of the first half, but the Sun Devil defense would hold off the attack and take a 37-34 lead into the second half.
The track meet continued well into the third quarter, until the Sun Devils took a 10-point lead with yet another rushing touchdown from Ballage, his sixth of the night. Ballage's touchdown broke the ASU single game touchdown record, topping Ben Malone, Leon Burton and Wilford White for the honors. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Devils lead the Raiders 51-41.
After a nearly flawless game, Mahomes was picked off twice by redshirt senior defensive back Gump Hayes, who returned the first 19 yards and set up yet another rushing touchdown by Ballage. The onslaught would continue just seconds later as Ballage broke 75 yards for his record-setting eighth touchdown of the game.
Kicker Zane Gonzalez moved into a tie for 15th place on the NCAA all-time field goals made list with his lone field goal of the evening. His 77th career field goal came with just over three minutes remaining in the game and capped ASU's 68-55 victory. Hayes put the game on ice with his second interception of the night just moments later.
As an offense, the Sun Devils ended the Red Raiders' 10-game streak of forcing a turnover, and Todd Graham's team won the turnover margin 2-0.
The Sun Devils will continue their 2016 campaign with a road test at UTSA next Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.