Updated Nov 18, 2012 - 4:31 pm
Arizona State routs Washington State 46-7
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AP College Football Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona State marched down the field early and often, racking up yards and piling up points.
After failing to become bowl eligible four straight times, the Sun Devils wanted to make sure their seniors went out the right way.
Quarterbacks Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubanks combined for six touchdowns, and Arizona State became bowl eligible in its final home game of the season by rolling over Washington State 46-7 on Saturday.
"Obviously, it was a special day and we dominated," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. "That's the way you want to play on senior day."
It had been a frustrating run for the Sun Devils after opening their first season under Graham with five wins in six games.
One win from becoming bowl eligible, they bogged down against the Pac-12's best teams, losing four straight.
Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) left no doubt that it would clinch in its final home game, racing out to a 32-0 halftime lead while turning Washington State's Air Raid offense into Air Dud.
Kelly threw for four touchdowns and Eubank had one each on the ground and through the air. Tight end Chris Coyle caught two touchdown passes in a dominating first half and Rashad Ross also had two scoring catches.
Arizona State rolled up 561 total yards and its defense forced two first-half turnovers while holding Washington State well below its Pac-12-best passing average. The Cougars' run game offered no support, producing 1 yard on 19 carries.
This was just what the Sun Devils wanted before heading to Tucson next week to face rival Arizona.
"It meant a lot to get that victory," Arizona State senior linebacker Brandon Magee said. "I can't even describe how it felt to come out of that tunnel. I had a stomach ache. It was a weird feeling, especially at the end of the game. To hear the fans and the appreciation they had for the seniors here and for the team really made my day. I'll remember it forever."
Washington State (2-9, 0-8) capped a tumultuous week with a disappointing performance.
Trying to fight the distraction of star receiver Marquess Wilson's acrimonious split with the team, the Cougars came out flat and were run over from the start.
"We didn't execute well," Washington State coach Mike Leach said. "We ran around hard, but we didn't execute well. As the flood gates opened, we didn't become less frantic and stay within our technique. We tried to make too much happen, which happens in situations like that."
Kelly had struggled as teams closed in on the Sun Devils' running game, throwing seven interceptions during the four-game losing streak.
The sophomore overthrew a couple of receivers early against Washington State, but was at his just-make-it-happen best on Arizona State's second drive, flipping a short pass that Ross turned into a 15-yard touchdown.
Kelly used a hard pump fake to get Washington State's defense to come in on the next drive, leaving Coyle wide open for an 18-yard touchdown catch. Kelly added a 17-yard TD pass in the second quarter, though Marion Grice did most of the work, racing through what seemed like all of Washington State's defense on his way to the end zone to put the Sun Devils up 25-0.
Eubank got in on the action next, following an interception by Keelan Johnson with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Coyle in the second quarter, then opened the third by scoring on a 1-yard dive.
Kelly added another score late in the third quarter, scrambling long enough to find Ross for a 31-yard touchdown that put Arizona State up 46-0.
Kelly completed his final 18 passes, setting a school single-game mark for most consecutive completions, topping the mark of 13 set by Dick Mackey vs. S.D. Navy in 1952. He finished with 246 yards on 20 of 23 passing, while Eubank was 7 for 9 for 55 yards.
"It's pretty phenomenal how he's played as a first-year quarterback," Graham said of Kelly.
The big day by Arizona State's quarterbacks added to Washington State's misery in what has been a rough first season under Leach.
After opening with a pair of wins in their first three nonconference games, the Cougars struggled once the Pac-12 season started, losing their first seven games.
It got worse last week when Wilson quit the team, saying the coaches had physically, mentally and verbally abused him.
Leach denied the allegations, just as he did at Texas Tech, where he was fired in 2009 after being accused of abusing a player.
The Cougars vowed not to let Wilson's accusations become a distraction.
They didn't play like it.
Washington State ended its first fruitless drive by bouncing a snap on a punt, setting up Arizona State for a 21-yard field goal. The Cougars didn't get much better from there, managing more punts than first downs (5-4) at one point of the first half while Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday each threw interceptions.
The Pac-12's passing leader, Washington State threw for 240 yards _ 137 below its season average.
"I don't know what happened, but there was a huge change in possession that gave the defense short field early in the game and I feel like that kind of had the sideline's moral go down," Cougars safety Deone Bucannon said. "As a team, and the great teams do it, especially defensively, that needs to bounce off your chest."
It didn't and Arizona State raced off to a big victory for its seniors.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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