EL PASO, Texas – Time is a flat circle. In 2014, when No. 15 Arizona State came to the Hyundai Sun Bowl, the Sun Devils were riding high and capped off their 9-3 season with an exhilarating 36-31 win over Duke. In a game filled with offense, one Arizona State player shone brighter than any other.
Demario Richard, senior running back for Arizona State, was on that 2014 team as a freshman looking to make his mark. Richard earned the C. M. Hendricks MVP Award, annually given to the Sun Bowl’s most valuable player after scoring four touchdowns in the contest.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to start here my freshman season and then cap it off with the final game of my career,” Richard said. “It’s cool to have a chance to start and finish in the same place and I’m excited to play on national television.”
Richard and the Arizona State Sun Devils make their return to the Sun City to play in the 84th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl. The 2017 season for the Sun Devils (7-5, 6-3) saw several different offensive players find success as they had three different players with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
A 2017 Pac-12 Honorable Mention from Palmdale, California, Richard led the Sun Devils in rushing yards in 2017 with 977 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 185 attempts, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Not only did the senior establish himself as the workhorse in the backfield, but he was a valuable asset as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Richard averaged 9.3 yards per catch, totaling 65 yards on 7 catches. Combined, Richard amassed 1,042 all-purpose yards.
His freshman year, Richard had an impressive 478 rushing yards from scrimmage on a total of 84 attempts, good for an average of 5.7 rushing yards per attempt for the 2014 season. He had a total of four touchdowns on the entire year in that 2014 campaign, yet he matched that same total of four touchdowns during the Hyundai Sun Bowl, making that Sun Bowl performance all the more impressive.
“I’m going to try and go out and do it again and blow the game open,” Richard stated determinedly. “It’s about winning the game. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win this game.”
Four touchdowns by the same players had only happened three times in Sun Bowl history prior to Richard doing it in 2014. You’ll find that the company that Richard keeps is pretty impressive.
Sun Bowl Legend Thurman Thomas was the first to accomplish the feat during the 1987 Sun Bowl when Thomas and his Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers. Thomas was the lead running back on the legendary Buffalo Bills team that went to four straight Super Bowls during the early 1990s. Thomas was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2007.
The next to achieve the lofty goal of four touchdowns in a single game was none other than Sun Bowl Legend Priest Holmes. Holmes led the University of Texas to a 35-31 victory over the University of North Carolina in the 1994 Sun Bowl. Holmes had one of the most impressive 10-year careers of any running back in the NFL.
The last player to score four touchdowns in a game is a much more recent name. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw and ran for two touchdowns apiece as he led the Bruins to a 42-12 romp over the Virginia Tech Hokies. Hundley started three games for the Green Bay Packers in 2017 in relief of the injured Aaron Rogers
“It’s an honor to be part of that list of names,” Richard stated.
Richard hopes to etch his name in the record books forever as one of the all-time Sun Bowl greats.
“It’s one last game with my brothers. We’re going to go all out,” Richard said. “I’m excited to play with these guys one last time. It’s my last day as a Sun Devil and I want to go out with a bang. It’s exciting to have a chance to play in just one more game.”
Richard is bookending his illustrious Sun Devil career by coming back to the Hyundai Sun Bowl as he hopes to lead his team to another Hyundai Sun Bowl victory. Arizona State kicks off against No. 24 NC State in the 84th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 29, 2017 at 1 p.m. (MT) at Sun Bowl Stadium.
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