Sun Devils Burn San Jose State, 53-15

Sept 30, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Rebounding from its first loss of the season at Stanford one week ago, Arizona State returned home to Sun Devil Stadium with fire to beat up on the visiting Spartans of San Jose State, 53-15, Saturday night.

And there wasn't much room for mercy. The Sun Devils (2-1, 0-1) piled up 453 offensive yards, en route to handing the Spartans (0-3) their third straight loss.

'We talked all week about guys stepping up and making plays, and I am happy about the fact that we did have some guys making plays,' ASU head coach Dirk Koetter commented after his team's second straight home victory.

Leading Koetter's high-tempo offense against the Spartans was wide receiver Ryan Dennard, who scored a career-high four touchdowns. Also aiding the offensive onslaught was quarterback Jeff Krohn's 229 yards passing and four touchdowns, plus 159 yards rushing from tailback Delvon Flowers.

Krohn did not hesitate to start the air attack midway through the first quarter when he hit wide out Donnie O'Neal for a 40-yard play on a third-and-long down. Three plays later, Krohn hooked up with Dennard from six yards out for the first score of the game.

After forcing the Spartans to punt on their next possession, Krohn directed the offense downfield on five plays, hitting Dennard again for a score from seven yards out to put the Devils up 14-0 a minute into the second quarter.

'I really want to be a part of this offense, and today I got to show that when opportunity comes, I'm able to do something,' Dennard said.

Dennard happened to be one of the passing weapons the Devils used to help improve the ground attack behind the moves of Flowers. However, before the second quarter ended, San Jose State put up a struggle, scoring at the ten-minute mark on a Marcus Arroyo-to-Edell Shepherd pass from seven yards out.

The Spartans' two-point conversion failed, but they were able to add a field goal minutes later after Krohn's pass was intercepted by Spartan free safety Larry Thompson. Arroyo completed a series of passes to get to midfield, and after a Sun Devil pass interference call, Spartan kicker Nick Gilliam hit a 44-yard field goal to put the Spartans within five points, 14-9.

After ASU fumbled on its next possession at the Spartan one yard-line, Sun Devil line backer Mason Unck forced Jarmar Julien to cough up the ball at the Spartans' own 16 yard-line. The Devils were unsuccessful on the next three plays, and opted to call on kicker Mike Barth, who nailed a 31-yard field goal with seconds remaining in the half, sending ASU to the locker room leading 17-9.

The Devils opened up the second half with an offensive show from both the passing and rushing attacks that would lead to 29 third quarter points.

Three minutes into the third quarter, Krohn hooked up again with Dennard for a 22-yard score to put the Devils up 24-9. On the Spartans' following drive, Julien capped off an eight-play, 80-yard possession by scoring from 25 yards out midway through the third quarter to keep San Jose State within reach, 24-15.

Again, the Spartan two-point conversion failed, and the Devils wasted no time on its next possession to make up ground.

On the ensuing kickoff, tailback Tom Pace scampered for a 32-yard return to get the Devils to midfield. Krohn continued to display his ease at firing touchdown scores and completing passes a minute later as he tossed his fourth score into the arms of receiver Shaun McDonald from 50 yards out.

What many fans overlooked in the splendor of all the pass scoring was the solid ground game the Devils were building.

'Our game plan was to come out and try to run the ball better tonight and try to let the run set up the pass,' Koetter said.

In fact, the Devils would pile up nearly as many rushing yards as they would passing, thanks to Flowers and Mike Williams, who kept the Spartan defense honest.

The final minutes of the third frame ended up turning into a volleyball match, but the Devils got the best of the Spartans once the quarter had ended. On San Jose State's very next drive, Sun Devil safety Alfred Williams popped the ball loose from Julien, and ASU's Willie Daniel recovered at midfield.

The Spartans halted the Devils' advance as cornerback Alex Wallace intercepted a Jeff Krohn pass. However, as Wallace was breaking loose, Sun Devil Shaun McDonald forced Wallace to fumble, and Dennard scooped it up and sprinted 38 yards for another Sun Devil touchdown.

Koetter was nothing but excited about Dennard's chance to make things happen. 'It was gratifying when he [Dennard] got the first two touchdowns, you're happy for him,' he said. 'The third one was great. The fourth one--that was one of the craziest plays I've ever seen in my life, so that just topped it off for him.'

The Devils finished off the third quarter on a Jeff Krohn five-yard scamper to put the Maroon and Gold up, 46-15, and then used the fourth quarter to run out the clock.

In doing so, Flowers ran for an impressive 110 yards in the final quarter alone, including a series of 10 straight rushes in which he gained 81 yards, capped off by his four-yard score at 10:44 in the fourth quarter to put the Spartans away for good, 53-15.

'I thought Delvon finished the game, maybe his last six or seven carries, in the fashion that we need him to if we're going to win games in Pac-10 play,' Koetter said.

For Flowers, who is back in action after having knee surgery last season, the game was a confidence boost. 'It really helped, it's not over with,' Flowers said. 'I still have to got out and be successful in the Pac-10. That's the toughest challenge for me right now, is to be successful in the Pac-10.'

The one-sided victory was encouraging to Koetter, but he says there is still room for improvement.

'We're elated to win 53-15, but I think we're all a little bit frustrated in the fact that we know we can, and have to, play better than that,' he said.

SUN DEVIL GAME NOTES: Krohn passed for an impressive 229 yards on 15 of 22 passes, including four more passing touchdowns...Krohn has now completed 59 of 94 passes (.628) for a total of 866 yards over the first three games... Flowers ran for his third career 100-yard game, compiling 159 yards...Flowers picked up 81 of his 159 yards all in one series in the fourth quarter where he rushed all 10 times...The Devils tied a school record with 11 passing touchdowns in its first three games. The other time ASU accomplished this was during the 1970 Peach Bowl season under Frank Kush...Dennard had a personal career high three touchdown receptions, in addition to his third-quarter fumble recovery that went for a 38-yard touchdown...Dennard was just one TD reception shy of the school record, held by John Allen (1953) against San Jose State...The Devil defense held San Jose State to 63 total yards rushing and forced five Spartan turnovers.

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