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HOUSTON (AP) — Arizona State tried to recruit both Kyle Allen and freshman Christian Kirk, who grew up just up the road from Tempe, Arizona, in Scottsdale.
Instead they signed with Texas A&M, and on Saturday night the pair led the Aggies to a 38-17 win over the 15th-ranked Sun Devils.
Allen threw for a score early and sealed the game by running for a touchdown and throwing for another in the fourth quarter after being benched in favor of freshman Kyler Murray in the victory.
Allen won the starting job in camp, but coach Kevin Sumlin replaced him with Murray in the second quarter and alternated quarterbacks for much of the second half. Allen spent most of the third quarter on the bench before returning early in the fourth and capping a long drive with a 12-yard touchdown run that made it 24-14.
"I told him: 'Hey listen that was big-time because a year ago I don't know if you would have done that,'" Sumlin said he told Allen after that score.
Arizona State kicked a field goal before Allen connected with freshman Kirk on a short pass and he dashed 66 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-17. Kirk also returned a punt 79 yards for a TD in the second quarter.
Allen, Kirk and Murray were not made available to the media after the game.
"I think Kyle coming back, with Kyler having a little bit of success and the crowd juiced up, to come back and go down the field the way he went, was a big deal," Sumlin said. "He's maturing physically and mentally."
Mike Bercovici threw for 199 yards and a touchdown for the Sun Devils.
It was the first-ever meeting between these teams and the loss dropped the Sun Devils to 0-7 against the Southeastern Conference.
Allen finished with 198 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Murray threw for 49 yards with an interception and ran for 69 yards.
A&M's revamped defense under John Chavis, the former LSU coordinator, forced two turnovers, had nine sacks and 14 tackles for losses. It was the most sacks the Aggies have had since they had 10 against Texas Tech in 1995.
"You could tell their defensive coordinator has had a really big impact on them," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.
Daeshon Hall led the unit with a career-high four sacks and two forced fumbles and Myles Garrett had two sacks, three hurries and forced one fumble.
"We really just executed well and coach Chavis put us in the right position to make plays and we just got it done," Garrett said.
Tra Carson had a touchdown reception in the first quarter and ran for another score in the fourth quarter.
Allen was intercepted by Kweishi Brown on his first play of the second half, but the Aggies got it right back on a fumble. Murray took over after one more failed drive by Allen in the third and he dazzled with his feet, scrambling away from pressure for a long throw before gaining 23 yards on a run two plays later.
"What really hurt us is when Kyler came in there and just scrambled. We had him ... we had guys running at him and we couldn't tackle him," Graham said. "That kind of gave them a little spark on one drive."
That drive ended on an interception by Jordan Simone.
The Aggies defense bailed the offense out again, forcing a fumble and recovering it on Arizona State's ensuing drive.
A 19-yard field goal made it 17-7 in the third.
A 19-yard run by Bercovici got the Sun Devils within 17-14 with about three minutes left in the third quarter.
Kirk extended A&M's lead to 14-0 when he shed three tackles and then simply outran the rest of the defense in his punt return for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Christian Sam sacked Allen and caused a fumble which 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry recovered and rumbled 18 yards to the Texas A&M 4-yard line. The Sun Devils cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter when Kody Kohl scored on a 4-yard reception on the next play.
Murray first entered the game after Allen couldn't move the offense on the next two drives after the touchdown by Kohl.
Punter Drew Kaser was injured when Coltlin Gerhart crashed into his left leg late in the third quarter and was penalized. Kaser was helped off the field, unable to put any pressure on his left leg.
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