No. 25 Sun Devils Trounce Nevada, 52-21
Sept. 9, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Rudy Carpenter threw a career-high five touchdowns, and Arizona State's defense forced four turnovers to help the 25th-ranked Sun Devils overcome a sloppy start and beat Nevada 52-21 Saturday night.
Carpenter completed 17 of 26 passes for 333 yards in his second start since coach Dirk Koetter demoted his preseason No. 1 quarterback, Sam Keller, who transferred to Nebraska. Carpenter also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Carpenter, a sophomore who replaced the injured Keller midway through last season, improved to 6-1 as a starting quarterback.
ASU's much-maligned defense, which finished 114th out of 117 Division I-A teams last year, scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Reserve safety Ryan McFoy returned an interception 30 yards for a score in the second quarter.
Arizona State (2-0) came into the game hoping to establish a running game against Nevada (0-2), which allowed 212 rushing yards in its opening loss to Fresno State. But the Sun Devils struggled to run the ball against an undersized Wolf Pack front line.
In the first half, ASU's four tailbacks -- Keegan Herring, Shaun DeWitty, Dimitri Nance and Ryan Torain -- combined for 30 yards on 12 carries. ASU piled up rushing yards after the outcome was decided, with Torain gaining a team-high 70 yards on eight carries. He ran 15 yards for ASU's only rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Sun Devils didn't need a running attack on this night.
Arizona State opened the game with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive, the touchdown coming on a two-yard pass from Carpenter to tight end Zach Miller. It was Miller's 100th career reception and his 11th career touchdown reception, tying Joe Petty for the lead among ASU tight ends.
Nevada tied it at 7-7 on linebacker Ezra Butler's 23-yard interception return for a touchdown with 13:54 to go in the second quarter.
Four minutes later, Carpenter capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive by hitting Michael Jones for a 20-yard touchdown to give ASU a 14-7 lead.
Jesse Ainsworth's 32-yard field goal with 6:04 to go in the first half made it 17-7.
Arizona State took a 24-7 lead on Carpenter's third touchdown pass, a 52-yarder to Nate Kimbrough. The score ended a lightning three-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 28 seconds.
Carpenter connected with DeWitty for a 22-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to give ASU a 38-14 lead and hit Terry Richardson for a 25-yard score with 6:16 to go in the quarter.
ASU was out of sync early in the game. The Sun Devils were penalized five times for 29 yards in the first half and had a 44-yard field goal attempt by Ainsworth blocked.
But Arizona State's opportunistic defense snuffed any hopes of a major upset by the Wolf Pack.