Carpenter tosses 345 yards, 3 TDs as Sun Devils roll

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Rudy Carpenter's final season at Arizona State is off to a hot start.

The senior quarterback threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns to lead the 15th-ranked Sun Devils to a 41-17 victory over Stanford on Saturday night.

"I am feeling comfortable," said Carpenter, who has thrown for a school-record 733 yards in the first two games. "Obviously, I think the passing game's one of our strengths."

Facing relentless pressure on a 100-degree night in the desert, Carpenter completed 27 of 36 passes and threw one interception. He was sacked twice, fumbled once and absorbed numerous hits.

"It's amazing how many times he gets hit and he gets right back up," ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. "He makes plays."

Carpenter, a senior, improved to 23-10 in his fourth season as a starter. With his next victory, Carpenter will tie Jake Plummer for third on the all-time list, and he's within range of all-time leader Danny White, who won 30 games in three seasons.

The Cardinal decided to blitz Carpenter, hoping to take advantage of the young ASU line. Carpenter responded with poise, often releasing the ball just as he was being hit.

"Rudy was very impressive tonight," said Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former quarterback. "I gained a lot of respect for him, for the way he hung in there. He was taking some hits, taking some punishment. He threw very accurately, and at times he made it look too easy."

Harbaugh's quarterbacks didn't fare as well. He started Tavita Pritchard but also used Jason Forcier, a transfer from Michigan, and Alex Loukas. None stood out.

Pritchard completed 11 of 18 passes for 97 yards, and he threw two interceptions that led to Sun Devils touchdowns. Loukas also was intercepted.

"Mistakes are always costly," Pritchard said. "Everybody knew their assignment. We didn't have too many mental errors out there. We just need to execute a little better than we did."

The Sun Devils (2-0) had won the last two meetings with Stanford by a combined score of 79-6, but this one was tighter, at least for three quarters.

Toby Gerhart's 5-yard run gave Stanford (1-1) a 7-3 lead after one quarter. That brought back memories of last year, when the Sun Devils led after the first quarter only three times and were outscored 128-50 in the first quarter.

Gerhart finished with 67 yards and two touchdowns.

The second quarter belonged to ASU.

With 9:08 to go in the half, Carpenter hit a wide-open Michael Jones with an 11-yard touchdown pass to put ASU ahead 13-7. After a Stanford field goal in the final minute of the half, Carpenter hit Kerry Taylor for a 45-yard score to give ASU a 20-10 halftime lead.

"That was a huge play, scoring there just before the half," Erickson said. "That was a turning point."

Taylor, who caught five passes for 92 yards, was among nine Sun Devils with receptions.

"It seems kind of easy right now, knowing where Rudy's going to throw the ball every time," Taylor said.

Once the Sun Devils had established the passing game, they began to run the ball more effectively. Dimitri Nance scored from a yard out to make it 27-10 early in the third quarter, and Keegan Herring later added a 1-yard touchdown.

"When you pass the ball in hot weather like this, you get those defensive guys tired, and that's when you can start pounding it," Carpenter said.

ASU looked ready to blow the game open when Cardinal linebacker Clinton Snyder sacked Carpenter and forced a fumble midway through the third quarter; Snyder, who tied for the Pac-10 lead with four forced fumbles last year, has forced one in each of Stanford's first two games.

Stanford drew within 27-17 on a 6-play, 63-yard drive capped by Gerhart's 2-yard run.

The Sun Devils responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Carpenter hitting tight end Dan Knapp for a 2-yard touchdown with 10:43 to go in the game.

Nance ran for 75 yards and a touchdown for ASU, while Herring returned from a hamstring injury to rush for 59 yards and a score. Herring limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the game, but Erickson said he thought Herring wasn't seriously hurt.

The Sun Devils have one more tuneup, against UNLV, next weekend before facing No. 2 Georgia on Sept. 20. Carpenter insisted the Sun Devils won't be looking ahead to the Bulldogs.

"We've got UNLV next week, and it's going to be tough," Carpenter said. "We've got to get through that one before anything else."