Ballage breaks TD records as ASU wins 68-55 shoot-out


Arizona State and Texas Tech combined for 71 points in last night’s high-octane football shoot-out in Tempe.

And that was just the first half.

The game began in 101-degree heat and took 10 minutes shy of four hours to complete  By the time the sauna session was finished, there were 123 points on the scoreboard.

There are basketball games that don’t see that much scoring.

ASU was the last team standing in a back-and-forth display of offensive firepower, upping its record to 2-0 with a 68-55 victory that kept a packed house of Sun Devil fans on their feet throughout the game.

But it was the 6’2″, 227-pound running back from Colorado, Kalen Ballage, that stole the show in front of a national television audience.

The junior totaled 207 all-purpose yards in the game (137 rushing on 13 carries), but that was a minor part of the story.  In the process, he collected eight touchdowns, breaking an ASU record and tying an NCAA record.

The school record of five touchdowns in a single game has stood for the last 43 years, set by Ben Malone in 1973.

But Ballage left broken records scattered all over the college football landscape.  He set new marks for the most touchdowns in a Pac-12 regular-season game, broke the Pac-12 record for rushing touchdowns (7), and re-set the ASU record for points accounted for in a game (48).

In addition to tying the NCAA record for TDs in a game, he also tied the record for touchdowns in a quarter by scoring four times in the second quarter last night. The guy just never let up.

For perspective on what Ballage accomplished on a personal level you need to consider that last night’s eight touchdowns in one game are more than he has notched in his first two years at ASU. And earlier today, he was named the CFPA National Performer of the Week in recognition of his record-breaking performance.

“Kalen is a guy who is just now figuring out how powerful and explosive he can really be,” said ASU head coach Todd Graham after the game,  “and I think tonight he began to scratch that surface really well.”

Ballage was seemingly unstoppable from inside the 10.  He scored five times from inside the seven-yard line and then capped off the body of work with a 75-yard carry straight up the middle of the Red Raider defense for his final score of the night at the 9:11 mark of the fourth.

In just the second start of his college career, sophomore Manny Wilkens completed 28 of his 37 pass attempts for 387 yards and two touchdowns.  The Texas Tech starter, Patrick Mahomes II, finished 38-for-53 for 540 passing yards.

The two teams combined for 1,264 total yards of offense, with ASU holding the slight edge with 652 yards.

Ballage got the headlines from this game, but it was his backfield partner, Demario Richard, that got the bulk of the carries, picking up 109 years on 30 carries.  N’Keal Harry, the freshman wide receiver from Chandler High School, led the receiving corps with 72 yards on six catches.

“There were a whole lot of mistakes tonight that were made because of mental errors,” said Graham in evaluating the win.  “We just have to be more consistent.

“But we are 2-0 and we just beat a very good Texas Tech team.”

Up next: A road trip to Texas to take on UTSA in a Friday contest.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)