Sun Devils Out Slug Knights, Win Insight Bowl

A game in which 85 points are scored and 1,211 yards are amassed was probably better suited to be played in the Arena Football League two blocks away from Chase Field. Nonetheless, most of the 43,536 in attendance were both entertained and satisfied with the maroon and gold's 45-40 victory over Rutgers. Much like other wins this season, ASU's perseverance and solid second half play were key in the win.

Rutgers (7-5) scored on three of their four possessions in the first quarter, and shocked Arizona State (7-5) as they jumped to a 17-7 lead. The Sun Devil defense settled down, allowing only seven points in the second quarter, while the offense scored on a 20-yard field goal by Jesse Ainsworth, and a Rudy Carpenter one-yard TD pass to Zach Miller with only 39 seconds in the half, which had ASU trailing only 24-17 after two quarters.

That momentum carried ASU into the third period, where on their first possession they marched 70 yards in less than two minutes (1:44 to be exact), and culminated the drive with a Rudy Burgess one-yard run for a score. A 22-yard touchdown catch by Terry Richardson, sandwiched by two Jeremy Ito field goals, gave the Sun Devils a slim 31-30 entering the final quarter.

ASU possessed the ball 10:41 minutes in the fourth quarter, and it was time well spent as they scored twice: a 42-yard touchdown catch by Matt Miller (with a successful two-point conversion catch by Brent Miller) and a 4-yard run by Rudy Burgess. A touchdown pass by Rutgers' Ryan Hart to Tres Moses with two minutes to go made things a bit interesting, but ASU's special teams was able to recover the onside kick and give the team its first back-to-back bowl wins since 1987.

Carpenter, who won the game's offensive MVP award, passed for a career-high 467 yards on 23-35 attempts. He had four TD's with no picks. Burgess paced the team is rushing with 102 yards, and the sophomore found the end zone twice. Matt Miller scored two times as well, and had a team-high 135 yards.

The flu plagued the team in preparing for the bowl game. Injuries hit early and often during the contest. Granted, this win may not have been a thing of beauty, but those elements have to be taken in consideration when evaluating Tuesday night's performance. As disappointing as the 2005 season has been, it ends with two close but sweet victories over Arizona and in a bowl game - a feat that hasn't been seen since the 1978 season, which was ironically the only other time ASU played Rutgers. There are areas that need extensive shoring up (defensive line) and areas that are deeper than ever (quarterback and tight end). There is much to look forward to, and the 2006 season cannot get here fast enough…

Sparky's Sundries: Rudy Carpenter's passing numbers are naturally impressive to say the least. However, gaining three first downs through his rushing abilities was just as significant in Tuesday's night win…with his 22-yard TD pass in the third quarter, Carpenter eclipsed the ASU freshman record for passing set by Ryan Kealy. Carpenter ended his 2005 campaign with 2,273 yards passing…In previewing the game, much as been said about Rutgers' great rushing ability. In the second half, the Scarlet Knights gained only 31 yards and were out gained for the entire game 212-158…funny how local law enforcement was good enough to escort actor and Rutgers alumnus James Galdofini, but not sufficient for the Scarlet Knights' coaches and payers who were flanked by New Jersey State Police officers. Yup, that and subsiding student's travel expenses to Phoenix sure explains the exuberant tax rates the good folks in that state pay…The Rutgers fans were enormous in their support, but it was the maroon and gold's faithful rowdy cheering that required the Knights to take timeouts early in the third quarter, and forced them to an onside kick, which failed, with two minutes left in the game…with the contest lasting four hours plus, we were all reminded that any event in a Baseball stadium is anything but a quick affair…it was a touch of class having senior Chad Christensen come off the bench and take the last snap of the contest and keep the game ball…

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