Nov. 29, 2002
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - One of the top passing teams in college football beat its archrival the old-fashioned way - by running the ball.
Mike Williams, who lost his starting job five games into the season, ran for a career-high 162 yards and four touchdowns and Arizona State scored the last 21 points of the game to beat Arizona 34-20 Friday.
Williams' 40 carries were the second-most ever for an Arizona State back.
"It's just a great feeling to get the ball over and over again and get in the rhythm of the game," he said. "It's kind of hard when you're second- or third-string."
The Sun Devils (8-5, 5-3 Pac-10) clinched at least a tie for third place in the Pac-10 and gave second-year coach Dirk Koetter his first victory in the Territorial Cup rivalry.
The victory probably will give Arizona State a berth in the Sun Bowl.
Arizona (4-8, 1-7) lost its 11th consecutive home Pac-10 game. The team was coming off an upset victory at California, which came four days after 41 players met with university president Peter Likins to complain about what they felt was verbal abuse from coach John Mackovic. The next day, Mackovic fought back tears at a news conference and said he would work to improve his communications skills.
Arizona State came in ranked eighth nationally in yards passing, and just eighth in the Pac-10 in rushing at 88 yards per game. But Williams, a junior tailback starting because Cornell Canidate is out with a shoulder injury, scored on runs of 5, 4, 8 and 4 yards.
"Against your big rival school, to be able to score four touchdowns, this is like a dream come true," Williams said.
It was the most rushing touchdowns for an Arizona State back since Terry Battle had four against USC on Oct 19, 1996.
"We've been practicing this gameplan for two weeks," Koetter said, "and we've been running the ball good in practice for two weeks. ... They had three down linemen and dropped eight people back. They weren't going to let us beat them with the deep ball."
A year ago, when Arizona won at ASU, the Wildcats danced on the logo of team mascot Sparky, igniting a postgame shoving and shouting match. There were no such problems after Arizona State's victory.
"We're not going to come out here and dance on their field or nothing like that," Williams said. "The coach said we were going to come out here, we're going to dominate and be the better team, and we're going to win with class."
Andrew Walter completed 25 of 35 passes for 295 yards with two interceptions for the Sun Devils, who had touchdown drives of 94, 84 and 85 yards.
"That's what it can be like at Arizona State if we run the football," Walter said. "We don't have to throw it up 50 times a game."
Still, Arizona led 20-13 after Jason Johnson's 10-yard touchdown pass to freshman Biren Ealy with 6:51 to play in the third quarter.
Arizona State went 84 yards in 13 plays, capped by Williams' 4-yard TD run to tie it at 20 with 1:55 to go in the third quarter.
The Sun Devils took the lead for good by going 85 yards in 10 plays, Williams scoring on an 8-yard run to make it 27-20 with 9:10 remaining. Jason Shivers' interception on a ball off the hands of Arizona's Bobby Wade led to Arizona State's final score, a 4-yard run by Williams that gave the Sun Devils a 34-20 lead with 6:51 to play.
Arizona State often went to the no-huddle offense.
"Not just for what it did to Arizona," Koetter said. "For whatever reason, our offense seems to play better in the no-huddle."
The Sun Devils intercepted Johnson three times in a sloppy game that included eight turnovers and 196 yards in penalties.
Arizona led 13-10 after a first half that included three interceptions, a lost fumble, a blocked punt and a missed conversion kick.
Wade, in his final college game, caught six passes for 109 yards to break Arizona's record for catches in a season with 93.
"We have a lot of young players on this team," said Mackovic, who has three years left on his contract. "We'll have a good group of young players on the field, and we'll have a good nucleus of seniors."
Wade said he expects the players to stay behind Mackovic.
"I don't think too many people will leave after this season," Wade said. "The players went to Peter Likins because they wanted to get some things off their chest. We weren't worried about the repercussions."
Terrell Suggs sacked Johnson twice to give him 22 for the season, extending his NCAA record. The old mark was 17, set by Dwight Freeney of Syracuse in 2000. The unofficial record is 24˝ by Zeke Gadson of Pittsburgh in 1987. Suggs, a junior, also became Arizona State's career sacks leader with 40. He has not decided whether to return for his senior season.
"We're going to sit down with my mom and see what my best option will be," Suggs said.