Warriors Wallop Sun Devils in Bowl Game

The 41-24 victory by Hawaii may indicate that the home team controlled ASU from the opening snap until the final whistle. In actuality, the Sun Devils were the ones who dominated the game in the first half, but weren't able to put up more than ten points on the board. Against an explosive Warriors team, who unleashed their fury in the 3rd quarter, it was nothing more than delaying the inevitable.

Arizona State (7-6) knew that they couldn't allow Hawaii (11-3) to put them in an early hole, and were able to prevent that from ever happening. The maroon and gold's opening drive was promising, as they drove all the way until the Warriors' 10-yard line. A rare fumble by Ryan Torain ended that drive, but his team dodged a bullet with a missed field goal by Dan Kelly in the home team's first possession. Hawaii's QB Colt Brennan, who set the All-Time NCAA TD pass record in a season at 58 during this game, threw his lone interception (caught by ASU's Josh Barrett) in the second quarter, and in the ensuing possession Rudy Carpenter connected on a 37-yard bomb to Brandon Smith and gave the visitors a 10-3 lead, which held until halftime. The ASU defense harassed Brennan repeatedly sacking him three times in the first 30 minutes, and effectively disrupting the Hawaii offense.

A depleted ASU defensive backfield, who had both of its starting safeties Zach Catanese (who played just the first two series in the first quarter) and Josh Barrett (who missed big portions of the second half) sidelined, was exposed in the third quarter by the gun slinging Brennan and his arsenal of receiving targets. Hawaii scored touchdowns on its first three possessions in the second half and shifted the momentum of the game for good. On the other hand, ASU didn't have an answer to the blitz-happy Hawaii defense that sacked Carpenter four times and harassed him repeatedly.

The Sun Devils did battle back and with a rushing score by Torain and 4-yard TD pass from Carpenter to Mike Jones was able to cut the lead to 27-24 with over ten minutes left in the game. But that's all ASU could muster and the Warriors were able to pad their lead by two more touchdowns and ended the Dirk Koetter era at ASU with a loss.

Carpenter was 13-of-26 for 191 yards and two touchdowns, and spent most of the game running for his life. As usual, the running game was led by Ryan Torain who had 160 yards on only 18 carries. Mike Jones stood out on offense as well with 72 yards on five receptions. Brennan had five touchdowns and was 33-42 for 559 yards. Two of his scores went to Jason Rivers, who had a night to remember with 14 catches for 308 yards.

2006 was certainly a rocky season, which had its fair share of sharp peaks and deep valleys. Consequently, a coaching change was made and the Sun Devil nation can now officially rush in the Dennis Erickson era. The Hawaii Bowl showed what the maroon and gold faithful have known for a while – that for the most part the team has the talent to be a successful program. What the new coaching staff will have to do is to take this squad to the next level where it can be consistently successful year and year out.

May the year 2007 be the season that begins the turnaround we all yearn for…

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