Devils Overcome Slow Start, Dominate Buffs

Glass half full or half empty? That's the question on the Sun Devil nation's mind following a 33-14 victory over Colorado. Coach Dennis Erickson 150th career win may be remembered more for 136 yards of penalties, rather than scoring 33 unanswered points and successfully battling adversity. Surely there's much that needs to improve for the maroon and gold, and much to be proud of as well.

"I'm just really disappointed in the penalties," said Erickson following the game. "There's no excuse for that. It's not going to happen ever again, because they (the offending players) aren't going to play. We had some, particularly in the first half; we had some 15-yard penalties that are uncalled for, and then a couple on punts, which are uncalled for." Among those penalties were seven personal fouls committed by ASU.

Penalties weren't the only reason that Arizona State (2-0) spotted Colorado (1-1) two touchdowns in the first quarter, in front of 58,417 fans at Sun Devil stadium. On the third play of the game, the Sun Devils' Rudy Carpenter was intercepted by the Buffaloes' Terrence Wheatley who returned the mishap for a score.

Following a Colorado punt, ASU's Tyrice Thompson touched the ball (and replays can make the argument that that he pushed towards the pigskin), and the visitors recovered on ASU's 17-yard line, which led to a 10-yard touchdown pass by Cody Hawkins to Scotty McKnight.

While the maroon and gold continued to commit penalties, their offensive woes became a thing of the past in the second quarter. It may have taken seven drives for the home team to score, but a 12-yard pass from Carpenter to Mike Jones started ASU's impressive comeback. The Sun Devil defense, in one of the most solid performances in recent memory from that unit, definitely did their part in reversing the game's outcome.

Safety Troy Nolan intercepted a Hawkins pass and dashed 26 yards himself for the score. In ASU's next possession the offense converts a 4th and 6 en route to another score – a remarkable touchdown catch by Kyle Williams in traffic, that is assured to be a feature in ASU highlight reels for years to come. This score came with just 14 seconds left in the half and ASU leading 19-14 (ASU's missed a PAT and a two-point conversion) proved to be too much for the Buffs to overcome.

In its first possession of the second half, and following a 21-yard punt return by Williams, the injured Ryan Torain recovered from a slow first half, and rushed 24 yards in the drive which was sealed with his 7-yard scamper into the end zone. A 20-yard touchdown from Carpenter to Jones, with just under a minute and half to go in the third was ultimately the last score of the game.

The ASU offense may have not done much at all the rest of the way, but the suffocating Sun Devil defense ensured that the game's outcome would never be in doubt. Hawkins was just 15-42 passing for only 155 yards, and on the ground the Buffs had just 39 net yards of rushing.

Carpenter turned in a 19-37 performance for 269 yards, a trio of TD's and a pick. Torain's outing consisted of 91 yards on 17 carries and a score. Jones tallied six catches for 96 yards and two TD's.

Next weekend the Sun Devils close out their non-conference slate with another home game – a match up with San Diego State. A convincing win may be expected in that contest, but more importantly a marked improvement in penalties and mental errors will be high on the wish list of ASU's coaches and fans alike. Ugly wins still count, but its byproducts could also eventually take their toll against quality opponents in the future.

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