Sun Devils Down Utah State 26-16
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Andrew Walter threw for 277 yards and Riccardo Stewartreturned an interception 18 yards for a decisive score as No. 16 Arizona Statesurvived another uncomfortably close game, beating Utah State 26-16 Saturdaynight.
Utah State (0-3) made it interesting in the fourth quarter, when Travis Coxpassed for 153 of his 308 yards and threw an 11-yard scoring pass to DavidFiefia.
But the Sun Devils (2-0) got untracked when it counted, driving 46 yardslate in the game to keep the Aggies at bay.
The Aggies appeared to have scored a 30-yard return in the final minute whenKenny Coleman picked up a fumble by Barry Tolli and reached the end zone, butthe play was negated by a holding penalty - one the Aggies' 12 for 101 yards.
For the second straight weekend, Arizona State needed a big defensive effortto offset a sputtering offense. Stewart also had a sack and made atouchdown-saving tackle on Fiefia that slowed, but did not stop, Utah State'slast scoring drive. Defensive end Jimmy Verdon had three of the Sun Devils'seven sacks and the Sun Devils picked off three passes.
Last week, R.J. Oliver scored on a 100-yard interception return againstNorthern Arizona.
Walter had scoring passes of 44 and 15 yards to Fulton, and Randy Hillscored on a 1-yard run.
Utah State tight end Chris Cooley, who set a career high with eight catches,scored on a 6-yard run after a lateral pass, but couldn't prevent the Aggiesfrom falling to 1-38 against ranked teams.
Arizona State, embarrassed by its 27-point offensive output in a win overDivision I-AA opponent Northern Arizona last week, scored on the third playthis time when Fulton got behind the coverage, caught Walter's pass on the 20and ran in untouched 1:07 into the game.
The extra-point try failed, starting a mistake-prone stretch in which threeof Arizona State's next five possessions ended on lost fumbles - the last whenlinebacker Robert Watts jarred the ball loose from Loren Wade at the goal lineand it rolled through the end zone.
It took Josh Golden's 24-yard punt return to the Aggies 27 to set up ArizonaState's next score - a four-play drive capped by three straight carries for 14yards by Hill.
Utah State responded by driving 58 yards to Cooley's TD and forced athree-and-out by the Sun Devils on their next possession.
But Stewart changed the momentum when he stepped in front of a pass into theflat and returned it untouched to send the Sun Devils to a 19-7 lead with 4:34left in the second quarter.