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ASU rides second-half surge to win over Washington, 44-20

October 13, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona State has a knack for slow starts.

When the No. 14 Sun Devils wake up, look out.

Trailing Washington by four at halftime, the Sun Devils stormed back for a 44-20 victory on Saturday night behind a 76-yard touchdown run by Keegan Herring and a 57-yard touchdown run by Dimitri Nance.

"One thing about this team, they keep fighting," coach Dennis Erickson said. "I don't know how good we are but we have won seven games, and we'll take it right now."

The Sun Devils (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) are among only six remaining major-college unbeatens, along with Ohio State, Boston College, South Florida, Hawaii and Kansas. ASU takes next week off before playing host to No. 2 California, which lost to Oregon State on Saturday.

Washington (2-4, 0-3) has lost four straight.

"We didn't make plays," Washington coach Ty Willingham said. "I really don't know how to explain it."

For the fourth time in seven games, ASU overcame a double-digit deficit or trailed in the second half. The Sun Devils have outscored their opponents 136-29 in the second half.

"We're having a lot of fun competing every week," quarterback Rudy Carpenter said.

The Sun Devils took a 20-17 lead early in the third quarter on a 21-yard pass from Carpenter to Rudy Burgess, who made a leaping catch at the pylon and got a foot down before tumbling out of bounds.

Five minutes later, Nance broke through the right side of the line for a career-long 57-yard score to put the Sun Devils up 27-17.

Herring then went around left end and raced 76 yards down the sideline for the longest run of his career. The junior finished with 119 yards on 10 carries.

Asked about his offensive line, Herring said, "I think I might marry one of them."

Herring and Nance played big roles on a night the Sun Devils lost starting tailback Ryan Torain, who injured his left leg early in the first half and watched the rest of the game on crutches. Erickson said Torain "sprained his foot pretty seriously."

Said Carpenter: "I've been saying for a while that we have three really good backs."

Carpenter completed 20 of 31 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns for Arizona State, with one interception.

Carpenter won his 18th game as a starter, tying Andrew Walter and Ryan Kealy for third in school history. Carpenter, a junior, needs seven wins to pass the leader, Jake Plummer.

Washington redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker completed 10 of 28 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, and he had an interception returned for a touchdown. Locker also ran 32 yards for a score.

Thomas Weber, a redshirt freshman, stretched his Arizona State-record streak to 14 straight successful field goal attempts with kicks from 33, 24 and 20 yards.

Arizona State followed what has become a familiar script, spotting its opponent a lead and then rallying. The Sun Devils trailed Colorado 14-0 after one quarter, Oregon State 19-0 after one quarter and Washington State 17-14 in the third quarter.

On Saturday night, ASU jumped ahead 3-0, after opening the game with a 16-play, 59-yard drive. Washington answered with a 36-yard pass from Locker to Marcel Reese, who made a sliding catch in the back of the end zone.

ASU took a 10-7 lead on a 3-yard pass from Carpenter to Kyle Williams. The Huskies made it 17-10 on a 32-yard run by Locker, who sliced through the middle of the line and outraced several defenders to the goal line.

The Sun Devils caught a big break at the end of the first half. They had a first-and-goal at the Washington 8 with 8 seconds left and no timeouts. Carpenter tried to run for a score and was stopped at the 1 as time expired. But officials ruled he had stepped out of bounds at the 7 with 1 second remaining, allowing Weber to kick a 24-yard field goal that cut ASU's halftime deficit to 17-13.