Sun Devils Cruise Past Stanford 65-24
Sept. 28, 2002
by Travis Breedlove, ASU Sports Information
Sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter earned his first start of the season after bringing the Sun Devils (4-1,1-0) back to victories in their last two games against UCF and San Diego State, with the visiting Stanford Cardinal (1-2,0-1) coming to town. Both teams came into the game following a bye week and playing in the Pac-10 opener for both schools to a nationally televised audience on ABC. Arizona State would tear into the Stanford Cardinal in impressive fashion winning 65-24, led by Andrew Walter's 22-for-37 day with 414 yards passing and five touchdowns.
The Sun Devils wanted to start off fast in the game after coming out slow in their past two games. Kicking off to Stanford, Sun Devil kicker Greg Pieratt kicked the ball out of bounds giving Stanford the ball at their own 35-yard line. Stanford would test ASU secondary early as Cardinal quarterback Chris Lewis would complete a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Nick Sebes on the first play of the game. Stanford running back Casey Moore would score three plays later from two yards out putting Stanford on the board first. After tacking on a Michael Sgroi extra point the Cardinal led 7-0 with only 1:12 taken off the clock.
The Sun Devil offense would come back out on their first possession and answer back. With redshirt freshman running back Cornell Canidate making his first start of his Sun Devil career, 15 carries for 77 yards and three touchdowns, the Devil offense was ready for the call. Canidate would power the offense on their first drive getting 27 yards and putting the ball in Cardinal territory leading to a 27-yard touchdown pass from Walter to wide receiver Shaun McDonald. Mike Barth would add the extra point to tie the score at 7-7.
The Sun Devil defense would come out and stop the Stanford offense forcing them to punt the ball away. Andrew Walter would again lead the offense down the field starting at their own nine-yard line. In just over two minutes, the ASU offense would drive 91-yards. Led by a Walter to McDonald 53-yard reception that set up Cornell Canidate's first of four record tying touchdowns on the night, catching a nine-yard Walter pass. Barth would again make the extra point putting ASU up 14-7.
Stanford would look to even up the score on their next possession, as running back Casey Moore would break a 68-yard rush, on second and two, up the middle for a touchdown. Sgroi would miss the extra point allowing ASU to hold onto their lead 14-13. However, this was as close as it would get for Stanford as the Arizona State team was about to awaken and dominate on both sides of the ball.
'We allowed the first touchdown and they had a huge run on us,' senior linebacker Mason Unck said. 'That was making us kind of mad.'
On their next offensive series ASU would start at their own seven-yard line, due to a misplayed kickoff return, and would complete the series with a tipped interception from Andrew Walter to Stanford defender Colin Branch. Stanford, however, would not capitalize on the turnover. Stanford was facing a fourth and three from the ASU 33-yard line and attempted a fake field goal as Eric Johnson overthrew Casey Moore and gave the ball back to the Sun Devils with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
ASU would only be able to get 34-yards on the offensive series as Mike Barth attempted a 50-yard field goal that missed wide left to give the ball back to the Cardinal at their own 33. The Devil defense would hold strong as senior linebacker Mason Unck forced Stanford running back J.R. Lemon to fumble the ball away on the Stanford 43-yard line. Linebacker Josh Amobi would recover the ball and take it 37-yards to the Stanford six-yard line. 'I play so low, I see a ball (on the ground) and I can react to a ball like that,' Amobi said. 'Mase (Mason Unck) really hooked me up.'
'(Lemon) was carrying the ball a little wide,' Unck said. 'I was hitting down on the ball a little bit, and it caused the ball to come out.' The Lemon fumble was just one of four forced fumbles by the Sun Devil defense leading to 17 ASU points.
With 1:19 left in the first quarter Cornell Canidate would put it in the end zone carrying it from one-yard out to add to the ASU lead. Barth would again connect on his extra point bringing the score to 21-13 in favor of the Devils. 'For me to go out there and do what I did, I feel blessed,' Canidate said when asked about his performance.
ASU kicker Greg Pieratt would send the kickoff into the end zone to have Ryan Wells attempt to return it getting only 16-yards. Lemon would rush for two yards, but that was all the Stanford offense could get as they would suffer a five yard false start penalty and watch as punter Eric Johnson punt the ball only 14 yards and five seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.
Coach Dirk Koetter would go for a defining strike as quarterback Andrew Walter would throw to tight end Mike Pinkard for 27-yards and another ASU score as the first quarter came to an end. Mike Barth would add yet another field goal to give ASU a commanding 28-13 lead going into the second quarter.
The defense's rally would not stop either, on Stanford's next possession quarterback Chris Lewis would have his pass intercepted by ASU corner back R.J. Oliver, giving him three on the year thus far to lead the team. The offense was unable to capitalize on the turnover punting it back to Stanford after getting only eight yards.
Stanford would bring in quarterback Kyle Matter in hopes of staging a come back, but the defense was too tough for it to happen. Matter would lead the Cardinal down the field 59-yards in 14 plays to settle for a Sgroi 45-yard field goal and bring the score to 28-16 in favor of ASU.
The offense started to spread the ball out on their next possession with rushes by Canidate, Mike Karney and Mike Williams and catches by McDonald, Daryl Lightfoot, Karney and finally a touchdown capping drive for 14-yards to Skyler Fulton. The drive was the Devils second longest of the game and allowed them to build on their lead after a Barth extra point to 35-16.
Stanford would again commit a turnover on their next possession, four interceptions and three fumbles in the game, as Unck hit Casey Moore causing the ball to come loose only to see Amobi recover in a play very similar to what happened to his Cardinal teammate J.R. Lemon earlier on.
Starting with another short field the Sun Devils added a Mike Barth field goal to increase the lead 38-16 going into half time. Stanford was unable to move the ball in their last possession before the half ended leaving the score at 38-16.
The Sun Devils would receive the kickoff to start the second half as strong winds began blowing. Neither the winds nor the Cardinal defense could stop the ASU passing attack as they continued where they left off in the first half. On the first play of the second half Andrew Walter let it fly to wide receiver Shaun McDonald who took it 67-yards before being taken down by a touchdown saving, shoe string tackle from Stanford defender Stanley Wilson. 'I thought I was going to see more coverage coming my way, but I guess they felt that they had better athletes than us,' McDonald said referencing Stanford's man-to-man defense. 'Their safeties bit a lot on play action, and that allowed us to get behind them and get deep one-on-one with their corners. We've got real fast receivers all over the place so you can't contain us for too long.'
Canidate would take it the rest of the way with rushes of three, two and eight-yards for a touchdown to put more points up for the Sun Devils. Barth would continue his streak of consecutive extra points made giving ASU a 45-16 lead.
Stanford would again struggle on offense, as Kyle Matter would lead the offense onto the field for the second half. The first Cardinal drive would end when junior defensive end Brian Montesanto sacked Matter for a loss of four-yards on third and 13.
The two teams would trade punts before the Sun Devil offense would get another shot at putting points on the board. 'Our defense is setting the table fro us,' Koetter said. 'There were probably eight or 10 really good hits by our defense. Physically, we really hit them hard.'
Thanks to a long 31-yard return by Lightfoot ASU would start on the Stanford 34-yard line. Canidate would again have several successful rushes completing it with a seven-yard rush for another Sun Devil touchdown. Barth would again add the extra point for a 52-16 lead.
Kyle Matter would march Stanford 80-yards in nine plays to try and make up some lost ground hitting receiver Teyo Johnson for six-yards and a touchdown, but it was too late to make a difference in the outcome. The two point conversion to Johnson was good making it 52-24.
Stanford tried an onside kick, but touched the ball prior to it traveling the required 10 yards giving the potent Sun Devil offense another short field from the Stanford 44-yard line. Andrew Walter would take the first snap and connect with wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot for a 44-yard touchdown pass. 'You certainly wouldn't expect this,' Walter commented on the final score. 'When it happens you have to be pleased.' Mike Barth would hit his 49th consecutive extra point attempt, dating back to last year, to give ASU a 59-24 lead.
ASU's scoring would be concluded by two more Barth field goals of 20 and 41-yards to bring the final score to 65-24. ''We're very pleased with the way we started out on offense,' Dirk Koetter said. 'We knew we were going to come out and be aggressive based on their style. We just said we weren't going to hold back on our shots. We were going to take our shots downfield, and we did. Andrew and Shaun have got the mojo working right now, so we'd better keep giving it to them.'
'So many guys made plays today and I think this team is developing some confidence,' Koetter said looking back on the game. 'I thought they were ready to play Tuesday night at practice. I'm just real proud of these guys.'
GAME NOTES: The 65 points scored by the Sun Devils were the most points scored by Arizona State in a Pac-10 game, the previous high was 62 points set against Stanford on Oct. 24, 1981 at Sun Devil Stadium...Quarterback Andrew Walter had a career day, passing 22-for-37 for 414 yards and five touchdowns. Walter was the first Sun Devil since Jeff Krohn to throw for over 400 yards (Oregon 2000). The five touchdowns tied for third best in ASU single-game history...Junior Shaun McDonald had 10 receptions for 221 yards and one touchdown ranks third most in ASU single-game history, behind the 232 yards for Eric Guliford in 1990 and 227 yards by Ron Fair in 1989...McDonald also set the record for yards per catch for 10 receptions with a 22.1 yards-per-catch mark...ASU now leads the all time series with Stanford 12-7 including a 7-3 advantage in Tempe...the 91-yard scoring drive by ASU in the first quarter was the longest in the Sun Devils last 11 games...McDonald moved up to seventh in the career TD receptions record book (19 over all) with his one touchdown grab against Stanford...The ASU defense has forced 18 turnovers (nine interceptions, nine fumbles) so far this season, matching the 18 they team had all of last season...Redshirt freshman running back Cornell Canidate tied the ASU record for second most touchdowns in a game with four sharing the honors with 15 others last set by Shaun McDonald in 2001 against Louisiana-Lafayette.