Trojans Use 4th Quarter Drive to Edge Devils

Is the glass half empty of half full after a 28-21 loss to USC? The Sun Devil nation may be divided on the answer. Nonetheless, there's no denying that the maroon and gold showed one trait that haven't shown the last two games – resiliency. Trailing 21-0 in L.A., ASU didn't fold and tied the score. Its hopes for an upset were dashed with a long USC scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.

Arizona State (3-3, 0-3) knew that in order to defeat USC (6-0, 4-0) they should refrain from beating themselves. Alas, they didn't follow their own advice in the first half. A muffed punt by Terry Richardson and several penalties (ASU finished with 12 of them for 97 yards) aided in part to the Trojans scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions. The Devils mustered a good looking 11 play 84-yard drive in the second quarter, and scored with 1:34 remaining before the half on a one-yard scamper by Ryan Torain, to cut the deficit to 21-7.

The momentum from that score stayed with the visitors in the first couple of minutes of the second half. On USC's first play of scrimmage in the third quarter Dexter Davis sacked John Booty and forced him to cough up the pigskin, which was recovered by Gerald Munns on the home team's 30-yard line. The maroon and gold capitalized on that turnover, when Rudy Carpenter hit Zach Miller for an eight-yard score. A kick catching interference penalty by Rudy Burgess on USC's punt returner Desmon Reed, kept a Trojan drive alive but also gave ASU's another score. Booty's under thrown pass was intercepted by Sun Devil Keno Walter-White who ran the pigskin to the house and knotted the score at 21 with over three minutes left in the third quarter.

From here on out, ASU wasn't able to do much on offense and their defense which played valiantly in the second half, surrended only one touchdown to its opponent. The score was a result of a 14 play 74-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes of valuable time, and featured a costly off-sides penalty by Walter-White that helped USC to continue and march down the field. The Sun Devils got the ball back with 4:29 remaining in the contest. It was able to advance only to its own 24-yard line, when it was faced with a fourth down with about a minute and a half left in the game. The decision was made to punt, but with the clock ticking away and not enough timeouts to burn, ASU wasn't able to get the ball back and fell short of a chance to tie the game and force overtime.

Carpenter looked better throwing the ball than he did the last two games, as he completed 12-21 of his passes for 124 yards, a TD and no picks. Torain had 57 yards on 20 carries, and Miller hauled in four balls for 36 yards. Josh Barrett paced his team in tackles with nine.

ASU has just got done playing the three best squads in the Pac-10, and with no disrespect to the rest on the conference is looking forward to the rest of the 2006 slate which should yield hard to come by victories. Case in point, the Sun Devils face next a Stanford team that is winless on the season, and presents a great opportunity to notch that first Pac-10 triumph. Granted, getting off the snide in conference play may be easier said than done. Yet, it seems like a mission that is closer to accomplishment following the USC loss compared to the period of time that followed the losses by Cal and Oregon.

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