Humbled at Holiday Bowl

SAN DIEGO - Much of the pre-Holiday Bowl talk from the ASU camp was centered around the notion the Sun Devils would like to reach the same level of recognition and success as their opponent, the Texas Longhorns. Unfortunately for the maroon and gold, a 52-34 loss on Thursday night, just proved how much of a gap still exists between both programs.

"I think their team speed is like we thought it was," said ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "However when you look at the football game we had many opportunities at times. But when you turn it over four times you have no chance."

As the case with many of its games this season, Arizona State (10-3) spotted its opponent a large lead. A 21-0 first quarter deficit to Texas (10-3) ultimately proved too much to overcome.

"We didn't come out with the fast start," said ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter. "You play a team like Texas and they're too good to give them that kind of a (lead)."

The Sun Devils' first score of the game came on a play so bizarre, that 30-year plus coaching veteran such as Erickson, said that he has never witnessed such an event.

A lateral pass by Carpenter was incomplete. As the live ball rolled towards the sidelines, it was touched by a member of the Texas football staff, Chris Jessie, who was on the field, probably thinking that the play was dead. Jessie, who ironically is Texas Head Coach Mack Brown's stepson, caused the Longhorns to be flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and give the ball to ASU in a favorable position.

The ball was spotted as a 4th and goal situation on Texas' 7-yard line. On the ensuing play, and for the first time this season, Sun Devil wide receiver Chris McGaha found the end zone, as he caught Carpenter's touchdown pass.

Alas, that was the last time the ball would bounce ASU's way the rest of the night.

Down 28-13 in the opening moments of the third quarter, the Sun Devil defense held the Longhorns to a three-and-out, and had the ball at the opponent's 40-yard line. In the first play on offense, Carpenter threw an interception.

Texas didn't capitalize on that opportunity, and was forced to punt again. ASU returner Kyle Williams muffed the punt, and the Longhorns once again had the ball. Their signal caller Colt McCoy capped a 30-yard carry with a fumble that rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Texas' Jermichael Finley, who made it a 35-13 game.

Texas outscored the Devils 17-7 in the closing quarter, and negated two touchdown catches by Mike Jones and the inaugural touchdown run by Jarrell Woods.

Carpenter was 18-36 for 187 yards, 2 TD's and two interceptions. Backup quarterback Danny Sullivan was 7-14 in relief with 118 yards and a score. Dimitri Nance tallied 51 yards on 18 carries. McGaha registered 79 yards on nine catches, while Jones had 107 yards on eight catches. Travis Goethel paced the ASU defense with nine stops and also had a forced fumble.

"We have a lot to learn from this game," Carpenter remarked. "Hopefully we can come back next year and be better especially with the good experience we got this year in big games."

The 2007 season was a success, and that fact wasn't lost on Erickson.

"We're not happy with this football game," he said. "We didn't play like we had all year. Part of that is Texas and I give them a lot of credit. But yeah I'm proud of where we're at. We're co-Pac 10 champions, I'm very proud of these seniors…to win ten football games – I don't know if anyone of you would have thought that in the beginning of the year."

"However, when you win 10, you want to win 11 and we didn't do that."

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