Devils Halt Skid, Humble Huskies on the Road

SEATTLE - Playing a winless team is always a dangerous proposition, and for the first 30 minutes ASU was scuffling with a desperate Washington squad. In the second half however, the Sun Devils were able to frustrate their hosts on both sides of the ball en route to their first win in two months, a decisive 39-19 victory.

"We'll take any win after six losses," said head coach Dennis Erickson. "It's just good to get that feeling back. It's been a while."

"It's been the longest two months of my life," said ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter. "It's been terrible. It's just the course our season has taken this year and I'm happy our guys have hung in there, not quit, and practiced hard and played hard.

This was the first win for Erickson at Husky stadium, which is located not too far from his hometown of Everett, Wash.

"First of all, just getting the win is the most important thing," said Erickson. "This stadium is some place I grew up around and I haven't been very lucky here, so it was nice to win here but that wasn't the biggest thing."

"The big thing is getting a win for our team."

In the first half, it seemed as this game could be another heartbreaker for the ASU coach. The Sun Devil reverted to its performance last week, and was able to muster field goals, in lieu of touchdowns, when they penetrated the Huskies' red zone.

"It's kind have been the story our season though," said Carpenter. "We get down there and have trouble scoring points. Good thing tonight, Thomas (Weber), was making field goals early."

Weber was 3 of 3 in the win.

On one of the host's handful of trick plays in the game, Washington signal caller Ronnie Fouch caught a touchdown pass and the Huskies found themselves down by just a field goal, 16-13, at the half.

"Washington played their rear ends off," commented Erickson. "I have to give credit to Ty Willingham and that coaching staff. That's hard. You're out there, the coaching change is already made, you have to get those kids ready to play…I tell you what they deserve all the credit."

The struggles in the run game for Arizona State (3-6, 2-4 Pac-10) have been well documented and have hampered the offense in the team's six straight losses. Tonight, Washington (0-9, 0-6) surrendered 182 rushing yards, with 144 of them coming from Keegan Herring.

"Anytime we can run it, we're a lot better," said Erickson. "Keegan had a great day."

"I think the important thing tonight was that our offensive line did a great job," said Carpenter. "We ran the ball well, and they protected well. When you do those things you're going to win games."

An effective running game opened up the passing lanes for Carpenter, who was 22-31 for 218 yards. Both of his touchdowns were to fellow senior Mike Jones, who had a career-high 11 receptions to go along with his 146 yards.

Jones scored back-to-back touchdowns of six and two yards in the second half after the Huskies opened that stanza with a couple of field goals. Carpenter pointed to Jones' first score as the turning point of the game.

"Mike made a lot of big plays tonight," stated Carpenter. "They were playing off of him so they were giving us chances to open up the field and run some comebacks. We need things to go our way, and we need guys like Mike to make big plays for us, and that's what happened tonight."

The ASU defense may have been baffled a bit by Washington's first few trick plays, but on one double reverse Sun Devil defensive end James Brooks sacked Fouch at the host's eight-yard line. Forced to punt, the Huskies gave the ball back to ASU who scored on the ensuing possession and took the lead for good.

"Without a doubt that was the turning point," acknowledged Erickson. "Terell (Carr) has to cover for the pass so he has to hold, so there are two things involved in it. But he got the sack and that was a huge, huge field position change."

In Washington's next three possessions, the Huskies punted, were intercepted by linebacker Mike Nixon, and Fouch's intentional grounding in the end zone registered a safety and the last points scored by the visitors. All in all, the ASU defense allowed just six points for nearly the last 24 minutes of the contest.

"I thought defensively we played extremely well," remarked Erickson.

Up next for the Sun Devils are two consecutive home games, starting with another Pac-10 team yearning for some success the, Washington State Cougars, who are winless in conference play themselves.

"We just have to keep taking one game at a time," said Carpenter. "Keep working hard and concentrate on Washington State."


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