TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Demario Richard had nothing but the goal line in front of him. Arizona State’s bullish running back had just burst through a massive hole up the middle and an 80-yard touchdown run on the horizon.
Nope. Richard has been bothered by a sore ankle all week and it was just enough to allow Colorado’s defenders to pull him down from behind.
It was about the only time the Buffaloes were able to slow Richard during an overpowering fourth quarter.
Richard had 141 of his 189 yards rushing and a touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping Arizona beat Colorado 41-30 Saturday night for the program’s 600th win.
“In the fourth quarter, I already know what time it is when the game is close, I know my teammates depend on me in the fourth quarter,” said Richard, who moved into second place on Arizona State’s Pac-10/12-era rushing list with 2,743 yards. “That’s why I work my tail off in practice.”
Arizona State (5-4, 4-2 Pac-12) trailed by 10 in the third quarter, but turned to its power-running game to bull through the Buffaloes (5-5, 2-5) for 274 yards rushing in the second half. The Sun Devils had 381 total, most in a conference game since gaining 405 yards against Oregon in 1997.
Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins threw for 202 yards and a pair of scores, adding 95 yards and a touchdown rushing. The Sun Devils also kept Colorado’s Phillip Lindsay in check for most of the night, holding the nation’s third-leading rusher to 80 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns.
“I think we wore them down,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.
Steven Montez threw for 345 yards and a touchdown, but the Buffaloes were plagued by multiple dropped passes, including one by Shay Fields that would have been a sure touchdown — he was 15 yards behind the Sun Devils — on a trick play.
Colorado also had trouble bringing down Arizona State’s cache of running backs, allowing the Sun Devils to rack up 583 total yards.
“We had opportunities offensively and defensively throughout the game and we missed some, so that’s definitely frustrating,” Colorado linebacker Derek McCartney said.
The Sun Devils didn’t fare so well against the other two of the nation’s top-3 rushers, allowing Stanford’s Bryce Love to run for 307 yards and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny to pick up 216.
Arizona State did a good job of preventing Lindsay from breaking off any big runs in the first half, but allowed Montez to hurt them with the passing game to set up Lindsay for scoring runs of 1 and 6 yards .
Colorado took advantage of a coverage mistake late in the third quarter, going up 27-17 when Montez hit Fields in stride for a 54-yard touchdown.
Once the Sun Devils turned to their power-running game in the second half, the Buffaloes couldn’t stop them.
Richard scored on a 5-yard run set up by Khaylan Thomas’ blocked punt , then Eno Benjamin went on a 19-yard, multiple tackle-breaking run to put the Sun Devils up 34-30. Wilkins sealed it with a 1-yard run set up by Richard’s 63-yard burst up the middle.
“We don’t get on the plane, spend all that money, get all this gear, get all these people working to come out and take L’s like this,” Montez said. “So it’s tough to swallow.”
Montez bounced back from a stretch of struggling by throwing for 347 yards and three TDs in a win against Cal last week. He finished 23 of 41 against Arizona State, but could have been much better had the Buffaloes been able to hold onto the ball. Colorado had multiple dropped passes, including two that would have gone for scores.
A week after struggling with penalties, the Sun Devils were back to their disciplined selves, finishing with one penalty for 5 yards.
Colorado was unable to spring holes for Lindsay on offense and was overpowered at the line of scrimmage on defense in the second half to make its climb to become bowl eligible a little steeper.
Arizona State limited the big plays on defense and restored its power-running game after being limited by USC last week.
Colorado hosts No. 17 USC next Saturday.
Arizona State plays at UCLA next Saturday.