Arizona State Defeats UTEP 41-9 In Season Opener
Sept. 2, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Andrew Walter threw three touchdown passes, EmmanuelFranklin scored on one of his two interceptions, and Arizona State spoiledcoach Mike Price's debut with UTEP, routing the Miners 41-9 Saturday night.
Price landed in El Paso after being dismissed by Alabama for questionableconduct after a night of heavy drinking and partying at a strip club in Floridain April 2003.
UTEP, which had won only six games in three previous seasons, took a chanceon the 1997 national coach of the year.
Price took over a 2-11 team, and the result was predictable against the SunDevils, who returned 47 lettermen anxious to forget last year's 5-7 record.
One bright spot for the Miners was Jordan Palmer's 37-yard completion toJohnnie Lee Higgins Jr. That set up a 12-yard scoring run by Howard Jacksonwith 1:49 left in the second quarter and cut Arizona State's lead to 24-6.
Walter, the only Sun Devils quarterback to have two 3,000-yard seasons, wasso-so by his standards - 18-of-37 for 241 yards. He had TD strikes of 34 yardsto Terry Richardson, 2 yards to Brent Miller and 15 yards to Derek Hagan.
Sharp at the start, Walter looked flat in the third quarter and didn't playin the fourth.
But the Sun Devils had good field position most of the way due to gooddefense - a fumble caused by Jamar Williams and recovered by Josh Barrett endeda UTEP drive in the third, and Mike Davis Jr. picked off one of Palmer's fourinterceptions in the fourth.
Walter went 5-of-7 on Arizona State's first possession, which ended with a22-yard field goal by Jesse Ainsworth, who added a career-best 48-yarder in thethird.
UTEP adjusted briefly - Walter missed six straight passes and was sackedonce.
He broke his skid with an 18-yard completion to Lee Burghgraef, and thenfound Richardson for a TD with 13:30 left in the second quarter.
Franklin's two picks in a 2:40 span keyed the next two scores.
The safety returned the first 28 yards to set up Miller's TD grab. ThenFranklin stepped in front of Jonas Crafts and took the second 48 yards, makingit 24-0 with 8:58 left.
Before the quarter ended, Arizona State had another interception of Palmer,who threw 13 interceptions while starting six games as a freshman.
The Sun Devils extended the lead to 41-6 on backup Sam Keller's 68-yard TDpass to Rudy Burgess early in the fourth quarter.
Defensive tackle Quency Darley pulled down a deflection, but the Miners heldwith the help of a sack by Chris Mineo and a blocked punt by Chris Franciesthat set up UTEP's two-play, 49-yard scoring drive.
Jahmal Fenner had a 76-yard punt return late in the game, and Palmer passedto Jayson Boyd in the end zone, but the 8-yard play was nullified by anoffensive pass interference on Boyd, and the Miners settled for a 33-yard fieldgoal by Bryce Benekos.
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