SALT LAKE CITY — Near the end of an exhausting game, 305-pound Will Sutton admitted he didn’t rush the quarterback hard because he was trying to catch his breath. The decision worked out OK for the All-America defensive lineman.
Sutton was in the right place to reach up and grab the first interception of his career. The pick snuffed Utah’s last chance for an upset and secured No. 23 Arizona State’s 20-19 comeback victory Saturday.
Sutton said Utah quarterback Travis Wilson “was looking the other way, so I kind of drifted over there. I put my hands up and the ball just ended up in my hands. Everybody was more excited than me. I was still just trying to catch my breath.”
No one was more thrilled than Sun Devil quarterback Taylor Kelly, who couldn’t generate much offense until two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
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“That’s what our offense does. We kept fighting through adversity. Guys were coaching each other and keeping guys up. We weren’t going to quit,” said Kelly, who ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the final period.
But it took Sutton’s interception at the line of scrimmage with 1:01 left at the Utah 25 to clinch the win.
“I just came back to the sideline with a giant smile on my face, knowing we just sealed the deal. We got away,” Sutton said.
Stifled by Utah’s aggressive defense for most of three quarters, Kelly helped keep the Sun Devils (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 South title.
“Our guys are hard to stop once we get things rolling. Utah did a great job defensively, scheming what we were doing,” Kelly said. “They were bringing pressure from everywhere. Once we started figuring it out and moving the ball, our defense did a great job.”
Kelly finished 19-for-31 passing for 144 yards and Marion Grice rushed 20 times for 136 yards. Grice busted through the Utah line and rumbled 38 yards to set up Kelly’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith with 2:37 to play to make it 20-19. Utah’s Trevor Reilly sacked Kelly on the two-point conversion attempt.
“We didn’t finish. That’s on our defense. We had a 12-point lead but we didn’t protect it,” said Reilly, who had nine tackles and 2.5 for loss.
Wilson was 6 for 21 for 121 yards for Utah (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) and threw interceptions that ended the Utes’ last two drives. Wilson hit Sean Fitzgerald for a 12-yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the third quarter to give Utah a 19-7 lead, and the Utes looked primed for a second home upset to go along with the one they sprung on Stanford last month.