Ross D. Franklin The Associated Press Sacramento State's Joshua Armstrong signals incomplete, but Arizona State's Jaelen Strong catches a 24-yard touchdown pass.

Arizona State football team routs Sac State 55-0

Published: Friday, Sep. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 6, 2013 - 6:20 am

TEMPE, Ariz. — Many mocking terms are used to describe the matchup Sacramento State found itself in Thursday night.

One is a "body bag game," and it's there that the Hornets should look first for what's left of their confidence after Arizona State made a mockery of its season opener.

This wasn't the case against San Jose State a week ago, when the Hornets outplayed the Spartans in many categories in a 24-0 loss.

No, the Sun Devils quickly dashed Sac State's aspirations of becoming the ninth Football Championship Subdivision team to knock off a Football Bowl Subdivision program this year.

The Sun Devils scored at will in the first half en route to a 55-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 55,743 on a warm night at Sun Devil Stadium.

"That was the best team we've faced since I've been here, and it showed," said seventh-year Hornets coach Marshall Sperbeck, whose team hadn't been shut out in five years until last week.

Sac State has trailed for 106 minutes, 12 seconds of the 120-minute season and no doubt leaves town missing a measure of confidence after upsetting Pacific-12 Conference programs Oregon State in 2011 and Colorado last season. But the Hornets take home a $435,000 check for their trouble.

That and their opening drive were about the only positives to take away from the lopsided loss that dropped them to 0-2 for the third time under Sperbeck and fifth time since 2002.

The Hornets converted three of four third-down plays on their 16-play, 64-yard initial drive. But much like last week, they couldn't capitalize as Jesse Aguilar's 33-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Robert Nelson.

Sac State also missed two field-goal tries last week.

Arizona State quickly turned that momentum into a touchdown. The Sun Devils went 80 yards in 3:24 as Taylor Kelly threw the first of his career-high-tying five touchdown passes.

"We missed a good opportunity there to start the game off on a good note," Sperbeck said. "We didn't convert it, and then we struggled the rest of the night. That would be an understatement. …

"We had a good rhythm, and then it stalled out. But that was one possession. You have to be able to bounce back from that."

Things went downhill for the offense from there. The Hornets failed to pick up a first down on their second possession, and quarterback Garrett Safron fumbled on the first play of Sac State's third possession. Arizona State All-America defensive tackle Will Sutton recovered at the Hornets' 29-yard line.

Sac State trailed 21-0 less than 17 minutes into the game.

"It's tough not finding the end zone the past couple weeks," Safron said. "We need to keep executing and stay consistent throughout."

Safron threw two interceptions that led to Arizona State touchdowns before he was replaced by freshman Jihad Vercher midway through the third quarter.

Kelly finished with 300 passing yards for Arizona State, which outgained Sac State 523-167 and extended its win streak against Big Sky Conference opponents to 20 games.

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