Defense Domination Leads to Pac-10 Road Win

ASU's bad streak of losing in the state of California may be over, but the fine play of its defense keeps marching on. Already a conference leader in many defensive categories, the Sun Devil defenders once again suffocated the opponent in victory. In ASU's 41-3 win over Stanford, the visitors sacked the Cardinal seven times and held them to minus two yards rushing, aiding ASU to remain unbeaten.

"We played great on defense," said ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "What can you say when you hold someone to minus two yards rushing…you can't ask for much more than that. It gave the offense opportunities when they weren't moving the ball early. I thought we ran the ball pretty well on offense and made plays when we had to. It was a win. Winning on the road in California for the first time in a while."

The offense for Arizona State (5-0, Pac-10 2-0), was once again flat in its first few series. Consequently, Stanford (1-3, 0-3) was able to hold the Devils to just two field goals in the opening quarter. The Cardinal defense sacked ASU signal caller Rudy Carpenter three times in the first 15 minutes, but an offense that averages four touchdowns a game coming into Saturday night wasn't able to do much against the visitors' defensive effort.

Carpenter threw his only touchdown of the night, a 62-yard pass, to Rudy Burgess who evoked memories of the 2004 Sun Bowl evading defenders in the open field and dashing towards the end zone. ASU converted the two-point try, a run by Keegan Herring, to take a 14-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.

In what was probably the proverbial back breaking play of the night, Stanford Quarterback T.C. Ostrander, in his team's ensuing possession, was picked off by ASU's true freshman cornerback Omar Bolden, and the heralded recruit in his first ever start took the pigskin in for a score.

Stanford ended the half with a 42-yard field goal, which proved to be the only points of the contest for the home team. ASU kicker Thomas Weber, a perfect 4-4 on the night, converted from 38 and 18 yards in the third quarter to make it a 27-3 game. Herring and Dimitri Nance scored on 72 and 17 yard runs respectively to seal the final score and end the seven-year drought of Pac-10 road victories in the Golden State.

Carpenter, who at times didn't get adequate protection from its offensive line, finished the night with an effective 20-27 passing for 259 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Ryan Torain was the leading rusher in the contest with 106 yards on 16 carries. Burgess had a career-high (in a single contest) 137 receiving yards on seven catches. Robert James had a game-high 11 tackles and Dexter Davis had a career-high in a game of 2.5 sacks. ASU had 440 yards of total offense, and won the time of possession battle holding onto the ball for nearly 34 and half minutes.

At the risk of sounding redundant, this ASU victory wasn't pretty by any means. The pundits may continue to call the Sun Devils an enigma or unproven, and there's probably some validity in that statement. Yet with eight upsets in the top 25 this weekend, the maroon and gold are more than happy with their win. They are assured of keeping their top 25 (probably more like top 20 when the polls are released) ranking, as they get off to their best start since 2004.

All week long the talk among the team was that the road trip to Palo Alto was going to be a business trip, and at 5-0, albeit with blemishes, business is good these days for the Sun Devils.

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