Tempe, Arizona - Starting quarterback Manny Wilkins shined in Sun Devil Football's season-opening 44-13 win over Northern Arizona on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils (1-0) moved to 5-0 in season openers at home under Todd Graham while extending their overall home opening win streak to 18 games - the third-longest active streak in the FBS.
The Sun Devils relied on a dominant ground attack throughout, posting five rushing touchdowns on 276 yards while limiting the Lumberjacks to just 56 rushing yards.
Wilkins led the offense throughout the game in his first career start, accounting for 269 yards of total offense. The redshirt sophomore scored the first Sun Devil touchdown of the season and of his career on a 13-yard carry as he laced through the defense and into the end zone in the first quarter. He would go on to finish the game with 89 rushing yards and finished 20-27 for 180 yards and one interception.
Zane Gonzalez tacked on nine points through two field goals and three PATs, including a career-long 53-yard field goal. The senior now has a career total of 76 field goals, continuing his Sun Devil career-record streak of 395 total points. Gonzalez is now tied for 17th with Blair Walsh (Georgia) for career field goals made in FBS history.
Junior running-back Demario Richard rushed for 78 yards and added 12 receiving yards, with one touchdown reception. Junior running-back Kalen Ballage rushed for 56 yards and received for 21 yards.
Redshirt senior wide-receiver Tim White had nine receptions for 95 yards and finished with a game-leading total of 195 all-purpose yards - his third game with 100 or more in his last four dating back to last season. Freshman N'Keal Harry made a statement in his college debut and added four receptions for 31 yards with a 34-yard touchdown rush, the first of his career.
The Lumberjacks hung tough throughout the game, trailing by just a touchdown until late in the third quarter before the Sun Devil offense roared to life. The Devils scored 31 points over the final 15:05 of regulation to blow the game open.
After Richard found the end zone with five seconds left in the third quarter, ASU quickly struck again early in the fourth on Harry's 34-yard scamper to make it a 26-6.
NAU quickly struck back with a touchdown of their own on an 87-yard strike from Case Cookus to Elijah Marks to trim the lead to 26-13 with 10:39 remaining. Cookus, a preseason FCS All-American, finished the evening 23-of-33 for 369 yards and a touchdown while Marks posted eight receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown.
The Devils answered just two minutes later on Ballage's 30-yard touchdown rush, however, and didn't look back from there. The Sun Devil defense held down the fort for the remainder, limiting the Lumberjacks to just 22 yards in the fourth quarter outside the long touchdown strike. ASU finished the game with 10 tackles for loss and a sack, paced by D.J. Calhoun's team-leading seven solo tackles.
Next up, Sun Devil football hosts the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Sun Devil Stadium. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. PT kickoff and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports