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Trojans hang a doughnut on ASU

No. 8 USC defense shuts Sun Devils down

Posted: October 11, 2008 10:59 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
At the beginning of the season, many people would have marked the Oct. 11 matchup between the University of Southern California and Arizona State University as a can't-miss game between two teams slated to make runs at the Pac-10 championship.

USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-10), led by running back Joe McKnight's career best 143 yards and a dominating performance by the defense, easily took care of business Saturday afternoon shutting out the Sun Devils 28-0, dropping the once-swaggering team from Tempe to a 2-4 (1-2 Pac-10) record and continuing their fall from grace after four straight losses.

McKnight had a season-long run of 41 yards in the first quarter, getting things on the right track early.

Quarterback Mark Sanchez finished 13-for-26 for 176 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. All of Sanchez's turnovers, which comprised of the three interceptions and a fumble, came in a dismal third quarter and included one pass taken by ASU safety, Troy Nolan, a transfer from College of the Canyons.

Nolan finished with six total tackles.

Though he struggled to keep the offense moving effectively at times, Sanchez, who came into the game with a knee injury, was able to right the ship and keep the Trojans one step ahead of the opposition.

"He's still the same as if we were winning and as if we were playing Ohio State," said McKnight. "Mark really didn't change anything. He just needed to settle down and once he settled down
everything started to click for us."

Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter also came into game injured and was a game-time decision. Also effective at times, Carpenter had to come out in the third quarter in favor of backup Danny Sullivan. Carpenter finished the night 11-for-20 for 126 yards and one interception.

"Rudy is such a competitive guy, real tough-minded," said defensive tackle Fili Moala who racked up a record two blocked field goals in the third quarter and recovered a fumble. "I've known Rudy from a while back so it wasn't surprising to see him out there hobbling around on one ankle, trying to get his team ready to go. ... You see him out there not on his best and you want to put some more hurt on him."

The men of Troy started things off quickly, taking the ball 72 yards over eight plays on their opening drive, ending on a 1-yard sneak by Sanchez.

ASU looked poised to respond following a 39-yard bomb from Rudy Carpenter to Chris McGaha on the first play of the drive, but the offense quickly stalled and the ball was given back to the home team.

Every time the Sun Devils appeared to make progress and began moving the football, the powerful defense led by Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing was standing in their way.

USC opened things up once again when under heavy duress, Sanchez launched the ball 29 yards to wide receiver Ronald Johnson. Sanchez finished off the 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to a slanting Damian Williams.

"I think it is incredible that he played to tell you the truth," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. "The fact that he got back, he gave the team a lift and he fought through it. This guy has just been a hero about coming back and I know it wasn't a game that he was proud about or happy about, but I'm proud as hell of that guy."

The defense flexed their muscles when defensive back Kevin Thomas took one of Carpenter's passes 46 yards the other direction for a touchdown before halftime. Sanchez was one of the first to congratulate the defense following the score, clearly ready to put the game away.

The final score of the game came late in the fourth quarter on a Stafon Johnson 2-yard blast.

No. 5 Texas 45, No. 1 Oklahoma 35
DALLAS - Mack Brown's Longhorns grabbed some second-half momentum by foiling a fake punt Saturday, then Colt McCoy and the defense built on it, carrying No. 5 Texas to a 45-35 victory over No. 1 Oklahoma.

Sam Bradford was 28-of-39 for 387 yards and five touchdowns, three to Manny Johnson, but wasn't able to pull it out for Oklahoma.

No. 11 Florida 51, No. 4 LSU 21
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes to Percy Harvin and ran for a score, and the Gators thumped defending national champions in The Swamp.

Tebow finished 14-of-21 passing for 210 yards. He also ran 12 times for 22 yards.

Oklahoma State 28, No. 3 Missouri 23
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Oklahoma State snarled Chase Daniel and a Missouri offense that had been scoring at will, intercepting three passes in the second half in the upset.

Zac Robinson and Damian Davis hooked up on a pair of long scores in the second half, and Patrick Lavine's interception with 1:41 to go was the clincher for the Cowboys.


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