Football Travels To UCLA For Pac-10 Showdown
Oct. 20, 2003
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Coming off a thrilling 33-31 come-from-behind victory last weekend at North Carolina, the Arizona State Sun Devils return to Pac-10 Conference play this weekend, traveling to Pasadena, Calif., to take on the UCLA Bruins. Saturday night's game at the Rose Bowl will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net. The Sun Devils head to L.A. riding a two-game winning streak after notching their first Pac-10 win of the year two weeks ago against Oregon and then downing North Carolina on a dramatic game-ending scoring drive in Chapel Hill last weekend. Arizona State is also looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the Bruins (both at the Rose Bowl) and tally the team's first three-game winning streak since downing Oregon State, Oregon and Washington in consecutive weeks last year. UCLA brings a 5-2 overall record and a 3-0 league mark into Saturday's game. The Bruins have won four straight games, including three straight league contests, most recently defeating California 23-20 in overtime last week in Pasadena.
In the Series
UCLA holds a 12-6-1 edge in the all-time series with the two teams resuming the series after missing each other in 2002. The series is tied 5-5-1 in games played at UCLA and 4-4-1 in games played in the Rose Bowl. UCLA has won the last two meetings - both at the Rose Bowl - including a 45-42 victory on Dec. 1, 2001. The two teams combined for 946 yards of total offense in that 2001 game which was postponed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Bruins led 45-21 after three quarters, and the Sun Devils scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but UCLA held on for a 52-42 victory. In 2000, then 15th-ranked UCLA came back from a 21-0 deficit to defeat ASU 38-31. Prior to losses in 2000 and 2001, ASU had won the previous three games and has been victorious in five of the last eight meetings between the two teams. ASU is 5-6-1 all time when playing in Pasadena including appearances in the Rose Bowl in 1987 and 1997. ASU head coach Dirk Koetter is 0-2 against UCLA in his career (0-1 at ASU) with his 1999 Boise State team also falling to the Bruins 38-7 in Pasadena.
Fox Sports Net will televise Saturday night's game with UCLA to a national cable audience with Barry Tompkins and John Jackson calling the action. The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on its 11-station network including flagship stations KTAR 620 AM and ESPN Radio 860 AM in Phoenix. Tim Healey (play-by-play), Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst), Vince Marotta and Paul Calvisi (pregame, halftime and postgame) will bring the action to Sun Devil fans. Calvisi will also provide reports from the ASU sidelines during home games. ASU games can also be heard live on ASU's official web site at www.TheSunDevils.com. Westwood One will also broadcast Saturday's game to a national radio audience with Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Mora calling the action.
Last Time Out
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter connected with senior Skyler Fulton at the back corner of the end zone as time expired to propel the Arizona State Sun Devils to a 33-31 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels last week in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Sun Devils started early when junior Daryl Lightfoot returned the opening kickoff 35 yards to begin ASU's first drive in UNC territory, setting up a 49-yard pass from Walter to sophomore Derek Hagan for a touchdown and a 6-0 ASU lead, following a blocked PAT.
North Carolina countered with a scoring drive of its own, taking a 7-6 lead on a one-yard rush by tailback Ronnie McGill. Capitalizing on a fumble by senior fullback Mike Karney, UNC took possession deep in ASU territory and extended its lead to 14-6 on an 11-yard touchdown run by tailback Chad Scott.
ASU junior cornerback R.J. Oliver forced a fumble and senior Brian Montesanto recovered the ball on the first play of the second quarter, and Walter led the Sun Devils 80 yards in eight plays, a drive which culminated with an 11-yard TD pass to Fulton. A successful conversion from Walter to Hagan tied the score at 14-14. Midway through the second half, ASU got on the board again. After big rushing gains from redshirt freshman tailback Loren Wade and a 20-yard reception by Hagan, true freshman kicker Jessie Ainsworth drilled a 21-yard field goal, while he did it again after ASU recovered a fumble on a punt return a few plays later. Ainsworth hit a 24-yarder as time expired in the second quarter to give ASU a 20-14 halftime lead.
North Carolina started the third quarter with a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Darian Durant to receiver Jarwarski Pollock to move the Tar Heels into field-goal range. Placekicker Dan Orner completed a 50-yard field goal to make it 20-17.
After trading possessions, Walter got the Sun Devils going again, finding redshirt freshman Jamaal Lewis for 21 yards, Hagan for 24 yards and Lightfoot for 15 yards to bring ASU down the field to the UNC 17. Sophomore tailback Hakim Hill carried the ball 17 yards on the next three plays, including an eight-yard touchdown run to put the Sun Devils up 27-17. North Carolina countered with a 53-yard completion from Durant to Pollock on the ensuing drive, setting up a one-yard TD run by McGill to close the gap and the third quarter at 27-24.
ASU missed a 32-yard field goal to begin the fourth quarter, and Durant led the Tar Heels on an 80-yard drive, resulting in a touchdown that gave UNC the lead at 27-31. North Carolina was able to hold off the Sun Devils on their next two possessions and took over with 2:01 left in the game, looking to run out the clock. ASU's defense would not give up and put together a tremendous third-and-one stand to give the ball back to the Devil offense. Lightfoot got things started with a 28-yard punt return to get the Sun Devils to their own 39 with 36 seconds to work with.
Walter quickly led the Sun Devils downfield, finding sophomore Matt Miller for 14 yards and Hagan for 42 yards. With time ticking away and ASU on the five-yard line, Walter's second-and-goal pass to Fulton was incomplete. However, Walter was successful on his second attempt, finding Fulton who made an acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone as time expired to give the Sun Devils a 33-31 victory. Fulton finished the game with seven catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns, while Hagan turned in his third consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards, catching 11 passes for 185 yards (both career highs) and a touchdown. Wade led the Sun Devil ground attack, gaining a career-best 130 yards and one touchdown in 16 carries. Walter went 34-of-58 with a season-best 408 yards and three TDs in the game. The defense was led by junior safeties Riccardo Stewart, who collected 10 tackles (four solo), and Jason Shivers, who had eight (three solo).
Senior receiver Skyler Fulton's game-winning five-yard catch from junior Andrew Walter last week at North Carolina marked the first time that the Sun Devils have won a game on the last play since Arizona State took home a 23-20 victory at Washington State when kicker Mike Barth nailed a 49-yard field goal in overtime on Oct. 21, 2000. Coincidentally, that was the second time that season that Barth and the Sun Devils earned a win on a game-winning play as time expired. On Sept. 16 of that same year, Barth drilled a 49-yarder to beat then No. 25 Colorado State on the last play of the game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Hagan Turns in Third 100-Yard Day
Sophomore wide receiver Derek Hagan has turned in three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, becoming the first Sun Devil receiver to turn in three in a row since current St. Louis Ram Shaun McDonald had three straight 100-yard efforts last season (175 yards at San Diego State, 221 vs. Stanford, 156 vs. North Carolina). McDonald was also the last Sun Devil to accomplish the feat in four straight games, tallying 100-plus yards in games against Oregon State, Washington, Oregon and Washington in 2001. In his current three-game streak, Hagan has had 26 catches for 463 yards (154.3 yards per game) and two touchdowns.
Hagan turned in a career outing last week to lead the Sun Devils past North Carolina, hauling in 11 passes for 185 yards (both career bests) and a touchdown. In addition to being a career high, his 11 catches tied with three other Sun Devils for the fourth-best single-game mark in school history. Ron Fair holds the school record for receptions in a game with 19 catches in a 1989 win over Washington State. Hagan caught seven balls for 108 yards and one touchdown vs. Oregon on Oct. 11, while Oct. 4 against USC, he caught eight passes for 170 yards. He also played a key role in setting up both of ASU's touchdown drives vs. the Trojans, hauling in receptions of 35 and eight yards to help set up quarterback Andrew Walter's 12-yard scoring strike to senior Skyler Fulton in the first quarter. He also caught a 24-yard pass to get ASU to the USC 5-yard line in the third quarter, a drive which ended a one-yard TD run by redshirt freshman Loren Wade. Hagan's previous career bests were 95 yards in ASU's upset at then No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, 2002 and six catches at USC on Nov. 16 of last year.
Hagan leads the team in receiving this season with 38 catches for 576 yards and four touchdowns. He ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in both receptions per game (5.43) and receiving yards per game (82.3). Through seven games, he has already surpassed his production from all of last season. Last year, Hagan broke College Football Hall of Famer John Jefferson's record for receptions by an ASU freshman with 32 catches (for 405 yards) on the year.
The Sun Devils have scored on 14 of their last 15 trips into the red zone, going 5-for-6 (three TDs, two FGs) last week at North Carolina and a perfect 9-for-9 in their previous two games (USC and Oregon). ASU had scored just 50 percent of the time in their first four games (6-12). The Sun Devils scored two TDs and one field goal in three trips into the red zone vs. the Trojans on Oct. 4, while the team had six touchdowns in six trips past Oregon's 20-yard line on Oct. 11
Last week's victory at North Carolina marked the second consecutive week that the Sun Devils have turned in season highs in both passing yards and total offense. Over the last two games, the team has averaged 373.0 passing yards and 547.5 total offense yards, up from season averages of 286.6 and 405.0 yards, respectively. Ironically, the team's 598 yards of total offense against the Tar Heels last weekend marked the most since the Sun Devils had 657 yards in their 38-35 loss to the Tar Heels at Sun Devil Stadium last season.
For the third time in as many weeks, junior quarterback Andrew Walter turned in a season best with 408 yards on 34-of-58 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions in last week's come-from-behind win at North Carolina. He completed three passes for 69 yards in the game-winning drive, including a 42-yarder to Derek Hagan to bring the team to the UNC five-yard line and a five-yard game-winner to Skyler Fulton in the end zone as time expired. In the last three games, Walter has completed 71-of-124 attempts (57.3 percent) for 1,029 yards (343.0 ypg) and seven touchdowns, while his 34 completions and 58 attempts (both career highs) last week at UNC rank third on the ASU single-game passing lists.
Walter has now thrown three straight 300-yard passing games and has eight in his career, while last week's games was the fifth 400-yard game of his career. With the 408-yard showing at UNC last week, Walter is now the only quarterback in Pac-10 history to ever have five 400-yard games in his career. Last year, Walter became the first quarterback in Pac-10 history to turn in four 400-yard passing games in a season, while no Pac-10 quarterback had ever thrown for more than three in a season. Washington's Cody Pickett is the only other Pac-10 quarterback to have four 400-yard games in his career.
With his 408 yards last week at North Carolina, Walter also became just the fifth Sun Devil in school history to throw for at least 6,000 yards in his career. Walter has moved into fifth on the ASU list with 6,344 career passing yards after just 32 career games. He needs just 267 yards to pass ASU color analyst Jeff Van Raaphorst (1984-86) who had 6,610 passing yards in his illustrious career. Walter has also moved into 31st on the Pac-10 career list for passing yards, while he is tied for 26th on the Pac-10's career touchdown passes list with 46 career scoring strikes in three years. He needs two more to move in the league's top 25 in the category.
Walter tallied 316 yards on 18-of-28 passing with three touchdowns and no interception in ASU's Oct. 11 win over Oregon and was named the Pac-10 Conference Offensive Player of the Week following the game. He threw for 305 yards on 19-of-38 passing with one TD Oct. 4 against then No. 10 USC. Walter has turned in solid efforts in all seven games of the 2003 season and ranks third in the league in passing yards per game (274.4) and fourth in the league and 23rd in the nation in total offense (263.9). He is also tied for first in the Pac-10 and 20th in the nation with 21.1 completions per game. Walter holds a 9-10 record as ASU's starter and has completed 460 passes for 6,344 yards and 46 TDs in his three-year career.
In ASU's season-opening victory against Northern Arizona, Walter completed 15-of-24 passes for 224 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Walter threw four TD passes to three different receivers vs. NAU, marking the fifth time in his career that he has had at least four scoring strikes in a game.
Last year, Walter turned in one of the finest seasons in school history, setting almost every school record for passing yards and total offense. Walter shattered the school record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for 3,877 yards to become the first passer in school history to top 3,000 yards and surpass the previous school record of 2,878 by Danny White in 1973. Despite not earning his first start until the fifth game of the year, Walter, who finished third in the Pac-10 and 19th in the nation in passing efficiency at 137.10, turned in the fourth-best single-season performance in Pac-10 history. Walter completed 274 of 483 pass attempts, breaking ASU's single-season marks for attempts and completions - records previously held by Jake Plummer with 348 attempts in 1996 and Todd Hons with 199 completions in 1983 - while Walter's 28 TDs marked the second-best effort in school history behind Mike Pagel who threw 29 TD passes in 1981.
With a 536-yard passing performance to upend No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, Walter set Pac-10 and Arizona State school records for single-game passing yards, surpassing the previous mark of 534 yards by fellow Sun Devil Paul Justin vs. Washington State in 1989. He was named the Oct. 20 Sporting News, cnnsi.com and USA Today.com National Player of the Week in addition to earning his first career Pac-10 Player-of-the-Week honor. Walter also shattered the majority of ASU's total offense records, setting the marks for total yards (3,661 yards) and yards per game (261.5 ypg). He also tied Danny White (1973) with four games with at least 300 yards of total offense and turned in the sixth-best season in Pac-10 history. He finished third in the league and 18th in the nation in total offense.
Scoring Through the Air
Junior quarterback Andrew Walter has thrown three touchdown passes in each of the last two weeks, including the game-winning five-yard toss to senior Skyler Fulton as time ran out last week at North Carolina. He threw three scoring strikes to three different receivers in ASU's 59-14 win over Oregon on Oct. 11. Walter has now turned in 14 multiple touchdown games in his career, including five this season. He completed a season-high four touchdown passes Sept. 6 against Northern Arizona, marking the fifth time in his career that he has had at least four TD passes in a game. Walter's career high for TD passes in a single game is five in last year's 65-24 win over Stanford.
With his three TD passes last week against the Tar Heels, Walter has now moved into a tie for fourth on ASU's career list with 46, a record shared by Dennis Sproul and Ryan Kealy, and is two TD passes shy of third place on the list, currently held by Mike Pagel with 48. Current Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer (1993-96) holds the school record with 65 touchdowns in his illustrious career. Walter is also tied for 26th on the Pac-10's career touchdown passes list with Washington State's Drew Bledsoe (1990-92) and Arizona's Tom Tunnicliffe (1980-83). Walter needs just two more to move into the league's top 25 in the category and four more to pass Fox Sports Net color analyst Tom Ramsey who is tied for 21st with Washington's Cody Pickett after throwing 50 TD passes in his career at UCLA (1979-82).
Lighting Up the Scoreboard
Arizona State has averaged 46.0 points per game over the last two weeks, including 33 in last week's win at North Carolina and a season-high 59 points in the team's Oct. 11 win against Oregon. The 59 points vs. the Ducks marked the most points for the team since ASU set its school record for scoring in a Pac-10 game with its 65-24 win over Stanford on Sept. 28, 2002. The Sun Devils had averaged just 19.2 points per game in the first five contests of the season and only 12.0 ppg during their three-game losing streak earlier this season (at Iowa, at Oregon State and vs. USC). In his three seasons at the helm, Dirk Koetter's offense has turned in an average of 32.0 points per game, including an average of 26.9 points per game this year, 32.3 ppg in 2002 and 34.0 ppg in 2001. ASU's 59-14 victory over Oregon on Oct. 11 also marked the 10th time (fourth time at ASU) that a Koetter-led team has put 50 or more points on the scoreboard.
On the Ground
In addition to their season-high passing efforts, the Sun Devils have also turned in two of their best rushing efforts of the year in the last two weeks, averaging 174.5 yards per game on the ground including a season-high 190 yards last week at North Carolina. Redshirt freshman Loren Wade led the Sun Devil effort vs. the Tar Heels with 16 carries for 130 yards (both career highs) and a touchdown. It marked the second time this year that the Sun Devils have had a player run for at least 100 yards with sophomore Hakim Hill tallying 115 yards on the ground at Oregon State on Sept. 27. ASU is 236-43-5 (.840) all time when having a player gain 100 or more rushing yards. Wade's 170-yard showing (8.1 yards per carry) marked the most for a Sun Devil since senior Mike Williams turned in 162 yards on 40 carries in ASU's win at Arizona last season, while ASU's season-best four rushing touchdowns against the Ducks on Oct. 11 were marked the most since the team scored five TDs on the ground in last year's Oct. 5 loss to North Carolina.
The duo of Hill (56.0 yards per game) and Wade (54.0 ypg) gives the Sun Devils a strong one-two punch in the backfield, with the pair ranking eighth and ninth in the Pac-10 in rushing yards per game, respectively. Hill has scored three touchdowns on the ground to Wade's two, while Wade leads the way with an average of 5.8 yards per carry to 4.0 yards per rush for Hill.
Getting It Done on Third Down
Arizona State has converted on 58.3 percent of its third-down attempts in the last two weeks (21-36), including 10-of-21 attempts last week at North Carolina and a season-best 73.0 percent (11-15) vs. Oregon on Oct. 11. In the first five weeks of the season, the Sun Devils had converted on just 24 percent of their third-down attempts (18-74).
Stewart Leading The Defense
Junior safety Riccardo Stewart led the team with 10 tackles last week at North Carolina, marking the fourth time in seven games this season and the eighth time in his career that he has paced the team in the category. Stewart matched his career best with 11 tackles, including seven solo stops, to lead the team Oct. 4 against USC and paced the team in the category in each of the first two games this season, including 10 tackles (8 solo) Sept. 13 vs. Utah State and 11 tackles (8 solo) in ASU's season-opener vs. Northern Arizona on Sept. 6. Stewart ranks third in the Pac-10 this season with 9.1 tackles per game, trailing only UCLA's Brandon Chillar (11.6 tackles per game) and fellow teammate and junior safety Jason Shivers (9.5) in the category.
Fulton's Career Day
Senior wide receiver Skyler Fulton had a career day in ASU's Sept. 13 win over Utah State, catching eight passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns (all career highs). Of his career-high eight catches vs. the Aggies, seven were for 15 or more yards and five resulted in a first down. He also caught the game-winner Oct. 18 at North Carolina, hauling in a five-yard touchdown catch as time expired to give ASU the 33-31 victory. He had seven catches for 68 yards and two TDs vs. the Tar Heels. Fulton is second on the team with 70.3 receiving yards per game (35 catches for 492 yards and a team-best seven TDs), while he is 10th in the league with 5.0 receptions per game. He is also tied for third in the Pac-10 in touchdown scoring at 6.0 points per game. Fulton is averaging 14.1 yards per catch, while 20 of his 35 catches this season have resulted in a first down or touchdown, including four of his five receptions Oct. 11 vs. Oregon (three first downs and one TD) and four of seven last week at North Carolina (two first downs and two TDs).
Sophomore Jamar Williams turned in his first interception of the season, picking off an Oregon pass and returning it 50 yards for touchdown in the first quarter Oct. 11 vs. the Ducks. That marked the third interception return for touchdown by the Sun Devils this season, which is the most since the 1980 team returned four picks for touchdown. ASU's single-season record is five, accomplished by the 1974 Sun Devils.
The Sun Devils picked off two passes Oct. 11 against the Ducks, including Williams' interception and the first career pick by junior cornerback Chris McKenzie. Arizona State has had seven different players grab 11 interceptions on the year with one interception in all but one game this year (North Carolina). Junior safeties Riccardo Stewart and Jason Shivers lead the team with three interceptions each this season. Shivers, who has played in six of seven games this year, is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 and 21st in the nation with 0.50 interceptions per game, while Stewart is tied for sixth in the league and 25th in the nation with 0.43 picks per game.
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