No. 24 Arizona State rolls past NAU
Tempe, AZ (Sports Network) - Chris Baloney's 35-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter propelled 24th-ranked Arizona State over intrastate rival Northern Arizona, 35-14, at Sun Devil Stadium.
Rudy Carpenter completed 17-of-24 passes for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the heavily favored Sun Devils (1-0), who are looking for their third consecutive winning season. Freshman Dimitri Nance carried the ball 10 times for 61 yards and a score while Rudy Burgess had seven receptions for 112 yards.
Jason Murrietta was 15-of-20 for 259 yards and two touchdowns for the Lumberjacks (0-1), who are coming off a 3-8 campaign. Alex Watson was spectacular, catching 11 balls for 206 yards and two scores. Alex Henderson paced the running game with 44 yards on 14 carries.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Sun Devils finally vanguised the Lumberjacks with a 21-point fourth quarter. Baloney started things when he stepped in front of an out pattern and took it back 35 yards for a touchdown to give Arizona State its first lead, 21-14.
That play seemed to take the wind out of the plucky Lumberjacks and Arizona State put the game away with a 14-yard touchdown run by Keegan Herring with just over 12 minutes left.
Another touchdown run, this one by Nance, capped the scoring with 3:25 left in the game.
The Lumberjacks stunned the Sun Devils early as Murrietta scrambled away from pressure and found Watson behind the defense for an 80-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
Arizona State recovered early in the second quarter. Carpenter hooked up with Shaun DeWitty on a 13-yard screen pass to even things at seven.
But, if the Sun Devils thought Northern Arizona would fold, they were mistaken. The Lumberjacks continued to use the big play to rattle Arizona State. This time, Murrietta connected with Watson on a 60-yard score to take a 14-7 advantage with 6 1/2 minutes left before intermission.
The Sun Devils responded when Carpenter used the screen again. Carpenter found Ryan Torain and the running back did the rest, scurrying 39 yards for a touchdown that evened things at 14 heading to halftime.
The Sun Devils own a 18-14-4 advantage, including six straight wins in the all-time series between the two clubs. The two schools last met in 2003 with Arizona State prevailing by a score of 34-14...The Sun Devils had nine sacks in the game.
09/01 07:57:04 ET