Arizona State Puts Away Northern Arizona, 35-14

Aug. 31, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Rudy Carpenter threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns, but No. 24 Arizona State needed a fourth-quarter rally to get past Division I-AA Northern Arizona 35-14 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

Chris Baloney's 35-yard interception return on the first play of the fourth quarter gave Arizona State its first lead at 21-14.

Keegan Herring added a 15-yard touchdown run with 11:58 left, and Dmitri Nance ran in from 6 yards to cap a late 91-yard drive that put the Sun Devils in control.

Carpenter was 17-of-24 with one interception, and Arizona State's defense sacked Jason Murrietta nine times, including three by Derron Ware.

Murrietta completed 15 of 20 passes for 259 yards and two long scores, keeping the Lumberjacks tied through three quarters.

Baloney opened the final quarter by stepping in front of intended receiver Kenny Mahone and ran untouched for the score. On Arizona State's next posession, Herring took a handoff right, found no room and reversed field, went back behind the 25 and found the left corner to cap a three-play drive.

The Lumberjacks held off the Sun Devils in the second half by intercepting a tipped pass by Carpenter in the end zone and then stopping Arizona State at the Northern Arizona 1 on fourth-and-goal with 8:07 left in the first quarter.

Northern Arizona scored twice in the first half on big plays. Murrietta hit Alex Watson with touchdown passes of 80 and 60 yards to give the Lumberjacks the lead both times. Watson caught 11 passes for 206 yards.

Murrietta scrambled and almost was sacked by Kellen Mills before getting the ball to Watson behind Sun Devils safety Zach Catanese with 5:44 left in the first quarter to give Northern Arizona a 7-0 lead.

Arizona State answered with a seven-play, 56-yard drive, capped by Carpenter's 13-yard to Shaun DeWitty with 13:36 left in the half.

But Murrietta and Watson hooked up again with 6:13 left on a screen to the right that put the Lumberjacks back up 14-7.

The Sun Devils took advantage of a 12-yard punt by Rhian Madrid that gave Arizona State the ball at the Sun Devils 40 with 1:52 to go until the break. Carpenter hit DeWitty on a quick 21-yard out, and connected with Ryan Torain one play later on a screen as Torain outran the defense for a 39-yard score to tie it at 14.

Carpenter, a sophomore who played half a season last year after an injury to starter Sam Keller, was named the starter on Aug. 20, two days after Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter said Keller, a senior, would start.

Keller subsequently quit the team and transferred to Nebraska.

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