Resilient Sun Devils Capture Pac-10 Opener

Down 19-0 in the first quarter at home, it looked liked the ASU-Colorado game all over again. Luckily, it was a sweet Déjà vu for the Sun Devil nation. The maroon and gold outscored Oregon State 44-13, en route to 44-32 victory in the first conference game for both teams. ASU capitalized on six turnovers (five INT's), while Rudy Carpenter passed for four touchdowns.

Down 19-0 in the first quarter at home, it looked liked the ASU-Colorado game all over again. Luckily, it was a sweet Déjà vu for the Sun Devil nation. The maroon and gold outscored Oregon State 44-13, en route to 44-32 victory in the first conference game for both teams. ASU capitalized on six turnovers (five INT's), while Rudy Carpenter passed for four touchdowns. "Our guys just hung in there," said Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "…we made some adjustments at halftime. I thought we protected a heck of a lot better in the second half. They played in such a way that we had to throw it, and we threw it and Rudy made a lot of plays with his legs too."

Not only was the first possession for Arizona State (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) was a three-and-out, but on fourth down the snap from Jason Perkins sailed over the head of punter Jonathan Johnson who fell on the pigskin in the end zone for a safety. Oregon State (2-2, 0-1) got the ball back, and a 41-yard run by Yvenson Bernard set up a 14-yard TD pass from Sean Canfield to Howard Croom. In ASU's second possession Carpenter threw his lone interception of the game, to set up another Beaver drive (highlighted by a 43-yard catch by Sammie Stroughter) that culminated with a Bernard score. Silence and shock fell among the 56,099 at Sun Devil stadium as they saw the Devils down 19-0.

Both teams traded punts, and with the Sun Devils getting close to nothing in the ground game, they decided to air it out against an inexperienced Beaver secondary. With Jake Plummer in the house, as he was inducted to ASU's Hall of Fame, and his presence may have been felt. Carpenter looked very Plummer-like scrambling out of the pocket and throwing a bomb downfield to Mike Jones for a 64-yard touchdown. The first of five Canfield's interceptions leads to a Thomas Weber 29-yard field goal. Another Weber field goal right before the half sends both teams to the locker room with the home team trailing now just 19-13.

On Oregon State's second possession of the second half, Brandon Powers rushed for a 20-yard score to put his team ahead 26-13. On the first play of ASU's third possession in the second stanza, Carpenter finds Jones for another long TD, this time from 43 yards out. Following Another Canfield interception by Troy Nolan (who had a pair of picks on the night); Carpenter doesn't waste any time and on the first play of that possession finds Ryan Torain in blown coverage and a 48-yard score. The Sun Devils were ahead 27-26 and never relinquished that lead until the end of the game.

In the fourth quarter a Justin Tryon interception along with a Beaver late hit penalty puts ASU on Oregon State's 22-yard line, and a few plays later Carpenter finds Torain out the backfield again for a touchdown, this time a short 7-yard pass. Torain later added 41-yard rushing score. Faced with a 4th and a goal on Oregon State's one-yard line, it looked like ASU would go for it, but elected to get a chip shot 18-yard field goal from Weber to go up 44-26. Oregon State would add a touchdown with 52 seconds left in the contest for the final points of the game.

"We've been there before. Against Colorado we were down 14-0," said Carpenter. "In both those games (Colorado and Oregon State) the points that we gave away were because of turnovers…killing ourselves really. We knew that our defense was gonna stop them eventually and that we had to score some points, which is what we did later in the game."

Carpenter was 25-36 for 361 yards, and threw for four TD's and an interception. Torain rushed for 91 yards on 26 carries. Jones paced all wide receivers with 124 yards, and two of his four catches went for scores. Morris Wooten had 10 tackles for ASU. Robert James and Nolan had two interceptions each. ASU gave up 514 yards of offense and had 396 of their own, and had six penalties for 60 yards.

Once again, the Sun Devils survive an early sizeable deficit. Once again, opinions will range from satisfaction over the team's quick to recover mentality to concern over the maroon and gold's slow offensive starts and tendency to give up a good chunk of yards on defense. Call Arizona State whatever you wish, but just make sure to also call them undefeated thus far in the 2007 season. The road ahead won't get easier, but if the resolve of Dennis Erickson's squad persists, there may be more games containing a mixed bagged of goods ending in the most desired outcome of them all – victory.

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