TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- After a disheartening loss to LSU, Arizona
State's practices weren't exactly hearty. With Sam Keller running
the offense, the Sun Devils were in a different mood by the next
Keller passed for four touchdowns and freshman Keegan Herring
ran for 197 yards and scored twice, leading No. 18 Arizona State to
a 52-21 win over Northwestern on Saturday night.
"It's nice to know we can have a very average week of practice
and still come out and turn it on in a game," said Keller, who was
20-of-31 for 409 yards and has thrown for 1,448 yards and 15 TDs in
his four career starts.
"I've never had a quarterback learn what we're doing this
fast," coach Dirk Koetter said about Keller, who didn't start a
game until he replaced injured Andrew Walter under center before
the Sun Devils' win over Purdue in the Sun Bowl.
The Sun Devils (2-1) rebounded from the 35-31 loss to
third-ranked LSU last by accumulating a school-record 773 yards,
532 in the first half. Rudy Carpenter, Keller's backup, ran 2 yards
with 2:30 left to push the total past the 743 yards the Arizona
State had against Stanford in 1981. The output also was a
Northwestern record for opponent yardage, eclipsing the 713 gained
by Iowa in 1983.
The game took on aspects of an NFL exhibition in the fourth
quarter. Neither Keller, Herring nor Wildcats quarterback Brett
Basanez played the final 15 minutes, which began with Arizona State
Basanez passed to Shaun Herbert for 7- and 5-yard TDs. Herbert
had a career game for catches (8) and TDs. In the fourth quarter,
C.J. Bacher threw 12 yards to Rasheed Ward for a final score by the
Carpenter also directed a TD drive, finishing with a 7-yard pass
to Brent Miller with 6:57 left in the game.
Keller, who threw for 461 yards against LSU, tossed a 36-yard
scoring pass to Jamaal Lewis, a 24-yarder to Derek Hagan, went 15
yards to Rudy Burgess and 30 yards to Matt Miller.
Herring scored on runs of 2 and 5 yards, but sent a groan
through the home crowd by fumbling at the end of a 67-yard run with
6:00 left in the first quarter. Reggie McPherson recovered for the
Wildcats, but Herring, who fumbled twice in the game, scored on
Arizona State's next possession.
"Usually, if you fumble two or three times in a game,
especially for a freshman, you get sit down real quick, so I just
thank my coach and my O-line for having faith in me," Herring
"We knew all week, game plan-wise, that we were going to get
Keegan in there and force the ball to him," Koetter said. "We
thought if we could do that successfully our play-action game would
come, and it did. We made some big plays off play-action."
The Sun Devils put the game away by scoring on six straight
possessions in a 13:52 span of the first half and taking a 38-14
lead on Burgess' catch and run with 3:00 left in the period.
"It got away from us in the second quarter, and I'm
disappointed in the fact we didn't play better," Wildcats coach
Randy Walker said.
Each drive had a big play -- a 39-yard hookup from Keller to
Burgess before Herring's tying TD; a 16-yard catch by Hagan before
Lewis' scoring reception; Keller's 65-yard pass to Matt Miller to
set up a 27-yard field goal by Jesse Ainsworth that made it 17-7; a
14-yard pass to Lewis before Hagan's 24-yard scoring grab; and
38-yard completions to Moey Mutz which preceded Herring's 5-yard TD
run and Burgess' scoring grab.
"They were making a lot of great passes, and the running game,
but like last week I just don't think guys were in their gaps,
including myself," middle linebacker Tim McGarigle said. The
Wildcats allowed 37 points to Northern Illinois in their previous
Early on, Northwestern's Marquis Cole had a 57-yard punt return,
but the Wildcats stopped their momentum with an offensive face-mask
penalty, and Joel Howells missed a 43-yard field goal.
Basanez marched them 80 yards in 1:58 on their next possession,
setting up the game's first score with a 34-yard play -- a 27-yard
pass to Ross Lane, followed by a roughing-the-pass penalty on
linebacker Dale Robinson that moved the ball to the 7.
Banasez passed to Shaun Herbert for the TD with 7:23 left in the
But it was all Arizona State after that.
The Sun Devils slowed the pace in the third quarter, using
Herring, who ran for 134 yards and one score in a 63-16 rout of
Temple on Sept. 1, to grind out first downs and burn up the clock.