Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Arizona State Edges Duke, 36-31, at the 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl December 27, 2014

Arizona State Edges Duke, 36-31, at the 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl

EL PASO – In a game with 792 yards of combined offense, it was an interception by Arizona State’s (10-3) defensive back Kweishi Brown that sealed a 36-31 victory for the Sun Devils over Duke (9-4) in the 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 27 in El Paso, Texas.

Duke had the ball with under a minute remaining at the ASU 14-yard line and threw the ball to the corner of the end zone but the pass was intercepted by Brown.

The Sun Devils picked up their 10th win of the year in front of 47,809 for their second-straight Sun Bowl appearance, defeating Purdeu, 27-23, in 2004. Senior quarterback Taylor Kelly highlighted the ASU offense with 240 yards passing and 24 yards rushing for 264 of total offense. After the 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl, Kelly becomes the third player in ASU program history to tally 10,000 yards of total offense with 10,223 yards.

Duke trailed 30-17 heading into the fourth quarter but battled back scoring 14-points in the fourth to take their first lead of the game with 5:03 remaining in the game. The Blue Devils took possession on an ASU turnover, but turned it over on downs with 9:22 left in the fourth after the Sun Devils attempted to gain a first down on 4th-and-1.

The Blue Devil offense was forced to punt at the 50-yard line but pulled off a fake punt using a 30-yard pass from punter Will Monday to wide receiver Johnell Barnes moving the ball down to the 20-yardline to keep the drive alive. That play led to a 12-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Jamison Crowder to wide receiver Issac Blakeney. Crowder received a toss from quarterback Anthony Boone before passing the ball to Blakeney giving Duke its first lead of the game at 31-30 after the PAT.

The Sun Devils immediately responded with a 96-yard kickoff return by true freshman Kalen Ballage, who ended the game as the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player. ASU running back freshman Demario Richards, who was named the C.M. Hendricks MVP, scored on the very next play, catching a pass from Kelly. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful making it a 36-31 game with 4:45 remaining on the clock.

ASU’s Richards posted 41 yards on seven carries, with two touchdowns and added 22 yards on five receptions and two receiving touchdowns.

Duke’s Shaquille Powell had a productive day with 117 yards rushing on 29 attempts, while adding 52 yards on three receptions with one touchdown. It was his first career 100-yard game and tallied a career-best 169 total yards in the game.

ASU came out on fire, scoring on its first drive of the game after getting the ball on the Duke 49-yardline. The Sun Devils used just five plays in a minute and 33 seconds as Richard followed the right guard into the endzone from nine yards out.

After the Blue Devils went three-and-out on their second drive of the game, ASU put up another three points on a 28-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez to take a 10-0 lead with 10:50 left in the first quarter. The Blue Devils would get on the board in the first quarter as place kicker Ross Martin hitting a 40-yard field goal with 2:59 left. Duke started the drive at its own 35 heading down to the ASU 22-yardline, while eating up four minutes and 33 seconds off the clock.

ASU extended its lead by 10 with 12:55 on the clock in the second quarter as Gonzalez hit a 38-yard field goal. The Sun Devils had momentum but a sack by Duke on 3-and-4 for a 12-yard loss forced the field goal attempt. Gonzalez finished the game with 12 total points off three field goals and three PATs, tying No. 4 for all-time scoring for a kicker in Hyundai Sun Bowl history.

The Sun Devils decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the Duke 12-yard line and Kelly ran the ball up the middle for an 11-yard gain before Richard ran the ball in from 1-yard line. The point after gave ASU a 20-3 lead. Duke responded using an 8-play, 78-yard drive to pull back to within 10. The Blue Devils scored on a 14-yard pass from Anthony Boone to Powell. With 2:06 on the clock, Powell had already posted a career-high 96 total offensive yards.

ASU was held to its first 3-and-out of the game and punted the ball 43-yards down to the Duke 32-yardline. Blue Devil punt returner Crowder returned the ball 68 yards for a touchdown to make it a 20-17 ballgame. The 68-yard punt return was the longest punt return since North Carolina’s Marcus Wall returned a punt for 82 yards against Texas during the 1994 Sun Bowl.

The Sun Devils opened the second half scoring on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off by an 11-yard TD pass from Kelly to Richard. It was Richard’s third score of the game, giving ASU a 27-17 lead with 11:08 remaining.

Duke was driving down the field and completed a pass to Blakeney on 3rd-and-14 but the ball was stripped by ASU defensive back Kweishi Brown with the fumble recovered by Jordan Simone at the 7-yardline. The ball was returned to the ASU 36-yardline and the Sun Devils eventually scored on a 47-yard field goal by Gonzalez to make it 30-17 game.

The Blue Devils pulled to within six points at 30-24, when Boone threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Barnes with the PAT made by Martin. It was Barnes’ first career-touchdown.

Arizona State freshman Marcus Hardison was named the Jjimmy Rogers, Jr. Most Valuable Lineman.


UTEP Wins WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational December 23, 2014

UTEP Wins WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

The UTEP Miners won their 31st WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational behind tournament MVP Vince Hunter’s 18-point, 16-rebound output defeating Kent State, 78-75 in the 53rd edition of the nation’s oldest holiday tournament.

UTEP’s Matt Willms received the Haskins Award given to the student-athletes that most exemplifies the ideals and integrity of legendary coach Don Haskins. The Miners’ Cedric Lang was named to the all-tournament team. Kent State’s Jimmy Hall, North Dakota State’s Dexter Werner and Alcorn State’s Marquis Vance rounded up the 2014 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament Team.

North Dakota State ran away with a 61-50 victory over Alcorn State in the consolation game.


Lonestar to Perform at Hyundai Sun Bowl Halftime December 10, 2014

Lonestar to Perform at Hyundai Sun Bowl Halftime

The Sun Bowl Association and Hyundai Motor of El Paso are proud to announce award-winning country band Lonestar as the performers for the 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl halftime show on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014.

“Lonestar is celebrating 20 years of making great country music and we couldn’t be more excited to have them perform at this year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl halftime,” said Oscar Leeser of Hyundai of El Paso. “This award-winning group has dozens of country hits under their belt and we are sure the football fans will enjoy their performance at Sun Bowl Stadium.”

Known for merging their country roots with strong melodies and rich vocals, Lonestar has amassed RIAA-certified sales in excess of ten million album units since their national launch in 1995. They achieved 10 No. 1 country hits including “No News,” “Come Crying To Me,” and their crossover smash “Amazed” (which was also #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first record since 1983’s “Islands in the Stream” to top both charts). The band’s awards include a 1999 ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed” (the song also won the Song of the Year award) and the 2001 CMA Vocal Group of the Year.

The Hyundai Sun Bowl, sponsored by Hyundai Motor America, will feature the nationally-ranked Arizona State against Duke. This marks the 10th year the Hyundai Sun Bowl has featured a halftime show. Previous performers have included Los Lonely Boys, Diamond Rio, Baby Bash, Rihanna, The Village People, David Archuleta, Lee Greenwood and Lee Brice.

The Hyundai Sun Bowl game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 27 at noon at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game will be broadcast live nationally in high definition on CBS for the 47th consecutive year. Tickets for the Hyundai Sun Bowl range in price from $22 to $62 and can be purchased by calling (915) 533-4416 or (800) 915-BOWL or go on-line at www.ticketmaster.com.


Duke, Arizona State Accept Invitations to Play at Hyundai Sun Bowl December 7, 2014

Duke, Arizona State Accept Invitations to Play at Hyundai Sun Bowl

Duke and Arizona State have accepted invitations to meet on Saturday, Dec. 27, for the 81st edition of the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, announced Sun Bowl Association Football Committee Chairman John Folmer.

“When we started off today, I thought there was no way in the world that we would get two 9-3 teams,” said John Folmer, Chairman of the Hyundai Sun Bowl Football Committee. “Now we have two 9-3 teams, Duke and Arizona State. This is a blessing and it’s a good thing for El Paso.

“Arizona State has been here before and everybody knows the name Duke, not only because of their basketball tradition but because they’ve been playing good football the last few years. We are all very excited and we think it’s going to be a great game and a great day for El Paso.”

The 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl will mark the first meeting between the two teams.

“We are really excited to have Arizona State and Duke this year in the 81st Sun Bowl,” said Barry Kobren, President of the Sun Bowl Association. “We have two 9-3 teams; two very successful programs over the last two years. Arizona State is ranked 15th. Duke played in a great bowl game last year and had a great performance against Texas A&M. We expect it to be another high-scoring shootout like that game was last year. Both teams can score a lot of points so it should be a great game.”

Arizona State, 9-3 and 6-3 (Pac-12), returns to the foundation of their 27-bowl game history making its fifth appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Sun Devils hold a 2-1-1 Sun Bowl record dating back to their first appearance in 1940. The Sun Devils’ last trip to the Sun City resulted in a 27-23 victory over Purdue. Before that, Arizona State defeated Iowa, 17-7, in 1997, fell to Western Reserve, 26-13, in 1941. The 1940 bowl game ended in a scoreless tie with Catholic University.

“This is a great opportunity for us to compete against a top-notch program and close out the 2014 season on a high note,” Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham said. “We look forward to representing our university in El Paso with character, class and dignity.”

The 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl will be the 28th bowl appearance for the Arizona State program and the third under third-year head coach Graham.

Led by the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, 15 All-Pac-12 honorees and a school-record 12 Pac-12 All-Academic recipients, the Sun Devils are looking to secure back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since Frank Kush notched double-digit victories from 1970-73.

Record-breaking quarterback and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year Taylor Kelly, 1,000-yard rusher D.J. Foster and 1,000-yard receiver Jaelen Strong pace an offense that ranks 18th in the nation in scoring offense and averages more than 440 yards per game. ASU’s defense ranks in the top eight in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, and has forced 25 turnovers and scored five touchdowns this season.

“Our university and community have a number of ties to this great state,” Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson said.

“Nearly 11,000 Arizona State alums live in Texas, and more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students from Texas currently attend ASU. We had nearly 25,000 Sun Devils travel to Dallas in 2013 to watch us take on Notre Dame and we can’t wait to see Sun Devil Nation out in full force in El Paso.”

Duke, 9-3 and 5-3 (ACC), will be making their first appearance at Sun Bowl stadium.

“To be selected to participate in the Sun Bowl is both a privilege and honor for our program,” Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe said. “The tradition of the Sun Bowl is well documented, and it is exciting to become a part of that prestigious history.

“Obviously, I could not be any more thrilled for our seniors, who together become the first class in Duke history to play in three bowl games. That means a lot, and it should. This group has earned this. Winning 25 games in three seasons and 19 games over the past two seasons hasn’t been easy.

Offensively, the Blue Devils are led by first team All-ACC selections in wide receiver Jamison Crowder and guard Laken Tomlinson. Crowder, who also received first team all-league honors as a return specialist, has 78 pass receptions for 952 yards and six touchdowns while sitting just seven catches shy of the ACC’s all-time record of 283 held by former Blue Devil receiver Conner Vernon. A two-time first team all-conference choice, Tomlinson was the runner-up in the balloting for the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, an honor presented annually to the league’s top blocker as voted on by the coaches.

On defense, three All-ACC picks – safety Jeremy Cash, safety DeVon Edwards and linebacker David Helton – highlight a unit that ranks among the nation’s top 20 in third down defense (18th), pass efficiency defense (20th) and scoring defense (20th). A two-time all-league pick and semifinalist for the 2014 Thorpe Award, Cash is the only defensive back in the nation with 100-plus tackles, 10-plus tackles for loss and five-plus sacks this season. Edwards, a third team all-league pick as a return specialist and honorable mention choice in the defensive backfield, has 119 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a team-high nine pass breakups to his credit this season. A first team All-ACC pick who leads the conference in tackles with 125, Helton earned first team Capital One Academic All-America selection last week.

“Having been fortunate enough to participate in the Sun Bowl, I know both programs will have a great experience,” added Cutcliffe. “What the El Paso community does in terms of embracing the teams and fans, along with its involvement with the game, is second to none. We look forward to representing the Atlantic Coast Conference and playing against another very deserving team in Arizona State. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Graham and what their staff has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.”

The Blue Devils’ Hyundai Sun Bowl appearance is the 11th bowl appearance and third consecutive under Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe was an assistant at Tennessee at the 1984 Sun Bowl.

The 81st Hyundai Sun Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 27 at noon (MST). CBS Sports will broadcast the game for the 47th consecutive year, which is the longest running partnership between a network and a bowl game. Ticket prices for the game are $22, $32, $47, $57 and $62. Tickets can be purchased at the Sun Bowl Association office (915-533-4416, 800-915-BOWL or email), online at www.ticketmaster.com or at any TicketMaster outlet.


260,000 Attend 78th FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade November 27, 2014

260,000 Attend 78th FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade

Beautiful ‘Sun City’ weather allowed close to 260,000 spectators to line up along Montana Avenue to enjoy the 78th edition of the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade on Thursday morning.
Children of all ages marveled at the almost 100 units that proceeded almost three miles on Montana Avenue from Ochoa Street to Copia Street to the highest-attended event in El Paso. The theme for the 78th Thanksgiving Day parade was “Gaming Mania: Video, Board Games and Arcade.”
The parade, televised locally on KTSM NBC Channel 9, featured floats, award-winning marching bands, equestrian teams, dancing groups and law enforcement from around the region.

The winners for each division will be announced on Sunday’s El Paso Times.