Sun Devils break through against weak Ducks
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State heads cross-country next weekend with some newfound confidence.
A Sun Devil team that had dropped three in a row finally displayed the offense it was supposed to have Saturday in a 59-14 rout of Oregon.
"It's easy to cave in when it seems like everyone is coming down on you," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "But I'm just real proud of these guys hanging in there and playing like we knew we could play."
That long trip to North Carolina will be a whole lot easier now.
"This definitely can provide a spark," wide receiver Skyler Fulton said. "We showed what we can do, now we just have to come prepared every week."
It wasn't just the offense that had a breakout day. Arizona State's defense gave the team a 14-0 lead before fans had settled in their seats.
Jamar Williams intercepted Kellen Clemens' first pass, on the third play of the game, and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Three plays later, Chris McKenzie picked off Clemens' second pass and returned it 23 yards to the 6, and Hakim Hill scored on the next play.
The quick deficit proved too much for the Ducks. Arizona State led 21-7 at halftime, then scored on all six possessions in the second half, the last five of them touchdowns.
"Before we knew it, it was 14-0, then 21-0," Andrew Walter said. "Then the killer instinct kicked in. 'Do we take the 21-0 and coast, or do we keep going?' We kept going."
Walter found open receivers everywhere, completing 18 of 28 for a season-high 316 yards and three touchdowns. The Ducks have been kind to the ASU quarterback. Last year, in the Devils' victory in Eugene, Walter threw for a Pac-10 record 536 yards.
He didn't need to throw for so many this time, because the Sun Devils' running game finally was clicking. Arizona State rushed for 173 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run by Loren Wade. Hill scored on runs of six and two yards.
"There were plays designed for about everybody today," Walter said.
Seven receivers caught passes. Fulton, Derek Hagan and Matt Miller caught touchdown passes. Hagan had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game with seven catches for 108 yards. The Ducks' defense always lives on the edge, putting eight or nine players up front.
"Oregon packs them in there and just dares you to do it," Koetter said.
Walter and his teammates made a mess of that defensive strategy. Now it's on to North Carolina next Saturday before coming back home for the Devils' remaining five Pac-10 games. Maybe it won't be a lost season after all.
"If it would have been a sloppy win, it wouldn't have been the same," Walter said. "But being that it was a pretty decent win, it definitely does bring confidence."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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