"We played a good team on the road and we had a chance at the end if we just could have made a couple of different plays here and there."
California (4-1, Pac-10 2-0) marched down the Arizona State (2-3, 2-2) 4-yard line in its first possession, but had to settle for 21-yard field goal. A fumble by Dimitri Nance in the Devils' first possession was cashed in as Nate Longshore threw his first of three touchdowns on the day.
After the hosts went up 17-0, Rudy Carpenter threw to Kyle Williams for a 30-yard score. From this point on the ASU defense was stout giving up just seven points the rest of the way. Nonetheless, the Cal defense was equally impressive and achieved the same feat, repeatedly stifling the visitors' offense.
"If we continue to play like that on defense then we'll win games," commented Erickson. A Carpenter interception early in the third quarter was cashed in by Cal for a 24-7 edge. On a rare Cal miscue, the Bears were called for a leaping penalty on the Devils' ensuing possession when they attempted a 43-yard field goal. That infraction not only kept the drive alive, but also resulted in an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Keegan Herring who was driven together with a pile of players into the end zone.
Down by 10 midway through the 3rd quarter ASU wasn't out of it, but when they needed just a bit of luck to turn things around; they just couldn't catch a break.
The Thomas Weber kickoff following Herring's score was fumbled out of bounds not giving ASU a chance to pounce on it.
A 32-yard punt return by Kyle Williams, albeit fumbled as well, put ASU in Cal territory. However, a Carpenter pick halted the momentum, and the ASU offense continued to sputter the rest of the afternoon. Even a later field goal, a 44-yard attempt, by Weber, sailed wide left in the waning moments of the contest.
To make matters worse, Carpenter may have been injured on that interception pass. After the game he was seen on crutches with his left foot wrapped in ice, in what has been described an undisclosed lower leg injury.
The road, figuratively and literally, doesn't get any easier for Erickson's team, as they travel to USC this coming weekend. It is guaranteed to be a contest where ASU will be a double digit underdog, as they try to stop their slide.
"We are going to be the underdogs at USC but we are going to go and play a hard fought game," said safety Troy Nolan. "We have our intention of winning every game in the Pac-10."