Oct. 18, 1997
Sun Devils Dominate 23rd-Ranked Cardinal
STANFORD, Calif. - Pressure, pressure, pressure. The Arizona State Sun Devils swarmed over the Stanford Cardinal, forcing the Cardinal offense to cough up the ball on numerous occasions. The Sun Devils ended the Cardinal's five-game home winning streak by defeating the Cardinal 31-14 in front of 43,909 at Stanford Stadium.
"We just come out strong," said linebacker Pat Tillman. "We knew we had to come out physical and we eventually wore them down."
Turnovers were a big key to the Sun Devils' victory. The Sun Devils' defensive unit forced four fumbles, recovering three of them. They also pulled down two interceptions in the first half, but the most telling statistic may be third-down conversions. Stanford was only able to convert twice on third down of the 13 times they tried. The Sun Devils also recorded four sacks on Cardinal quarterbacks.
The defense allowed 399 total yards during the game, but made key plays on fourth down. The Cardinal was only able to convert 1 of 4 on fourth down conversions. Arizona State's run defense disrupted Stanford's rushing game, allowing just 114 yards. The Cardinal also threw for 285 yards.
Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham offered his thoughts after the game.
He said, "We started off in a tentative fashion. When you don't control the line of scrimmage from the start, it makes it difficult to get everything else going."
The defense was lead by senior linebacker Pat Tillman, who had 11 tackles and one interception. The other interception came from safety Mitchell Freedman, his second of the season. Senior defensive tackle Jeremy Staat also had a big day with four tackles, all for losses and two sacks. The other two sacks were recorded by defensive tackle Vince Amey and rush end Malchi Crawford.
A trademark balanced offense kept the Sun Devils driving down the field. ASU had 454 yards of total yardage. 259 of those yards were gained on the ground without the services of sophomore J.R. Redmond, who did not make the trip due to injury. ASU still had two rushers with over 100 yards, and neither of them had any runs for losses. All of ASU's touchdowns came on the ground.
Tailbacks Michael Martin and Marlon Farlow paved the way for ASU, never giving up a single inch. Martin had 124 yards on the day and one touchdown, moving the ball an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Farlow, who received more playing time due to an injury to J.R. Redmond, had a career day with 129 yards, including a 60-yard scramble for his only touchdown of the game.
Farlow said after the game, "I think I took advantage of the opportunity, but I could have done a lot more. There were a lot of things I wanted to do. In time, I'll be able to prove myself and do more things."
Flyback Jeff Paulk also ran for 12 yards and a career-high two touchdowns. All three of Paulk's rushing touchdowns in his career have been against Stanford. ASU running backs gave up only ten yards on the ground for the day.
Quarterback Ryan Kealy kept pushing the Sun Devils down the field. He had 195 yards, completing 14 of 36 and throwing one interception. Receivers Lenzie Jackson and Kenny Mitchell both had four catches for 82 yards and 62 yards respectively. Jackson has now caught a pass in 20 consecutive games.
The Sun Devils got off to a quick start in the first half. On their first drive, the Sun Devils marched 82 yards in under four minutes for the first touchdown of the game. Michael Martin rumbled seven yards into the endzone to make the score 7-0.
Both teams would push back and forth for the rest of the first quarter to no avail. After a quick start, it looked like the Sun Devils would stumble like earlier in the season. Quarterback Ryan Kealy was sacked by defensive end Kailee Wong to end the first quarter. On their next drive, after receiving good field position from a short punt, Kealy moved the Sun Devils to Stanford's 11-yard line. Aiming for the endzone, his pass was intercepted by cornerback Corey Hill, who returned it 30 yards. On the second play of the ensuing drive, running back Anthony Bookman broke through for a 70-yard run and a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
The momentum seemed to be in Stanford's favor, but in college football, mistakes can cost games. Two drives later, Anthony Bookman, the same player who shifted the momentum of the game, would alter the momentum again. Threatening to score at ASU's 20-yard line, quarterback Chad Hutchinson handed the ball off to Bookman, and, trying to break open another big run, fumbled the ball. ASU linebacker Stephen Trejo pounced on the ball to give the Sun Devils possession. ASU marched down to the two-yard line to set up a two-yard run by Jeff Paulk for the touchdown and the lead.
"Were starting to become a real resilient team, like last year," said head coach Bruce Snyder. "Maybe we're picking up on that. I hope that's the case."
Snyder didn't have to hope for long. The momentum kept going the Sun Devil's way. On Stanford's next drive, linebacker Pat Tillman intercepted Hutchinson's pass at the Stanford 34-yard line. ASU would push to the Stanford 29-yard line to set up a Robert Nycz field goal to make the score, 17-7.
With a minute and some change left on the clock, Stanford needed to move the ball down the field quickly to keep the Sun Devils from running away with the game. Hutchinson moved the Stanford offense to ASU's 42-yard line. With seconds to go in the half, Hutchinson heaved the ball towards the endzone. ASU safety Mitchell Freedman hauled down the pass to end the half.
The second half would start off quietly, with both teams fighting to gain momentum. At the beginning of Stanford's third drive, receiver Troy Walters would haul in a pass and advance two yards before fumbling it away to ASU at the Stanford 25-yard line. ASU, hoping to take advantage of good field position, pushed ahead to set up a 39-yard field goal attempt by Robert Nycz, but the kick was blocked by Stanford tight end Tommy Hanson.
Stanford, however, was unable to capitalize and ASU would return the punt to their own 17-yard line to open their drive. ASU would pick away at the Stanford defense to move to the Stanford 2-yard line. Flyback Jeff Paulk plowed through the line for his second touchdown of the game, making the score 24-7.
In their next two drives, Stanford would push into a fourth down and one situation and a fourth and long situation. Looking to get back into the game, the Cardinal pushed for the first down on both occasions, only to be turned back by the ASU defense.
ASU would score halfway through the fourth quarter. Starting from their own 28-yard line, ASU would break down the field in four plays for the score. The big play came from tailback Marlon Farlow, who broke through and exploded for a 60-yard touchdown run to make the game 31-7.
Stanford had just over seven minutes to try to make the game look respectable. With back up quarterback Todd Husak now at the helm, the Cardinal pushed 81 yards to close in on ASU, 31-14. Back up running back Mike Mitchell bounced into the endzone on a two-yard run.
The two teams would push for the rest of the game and end the affair at 31-14.
Head coach Bruce Snyder is now 4-1 versus Stanford while at ASU. ASU has won three consecutive games at Stanford and is now 5-2 at Stanford Stadium.
"This game was important," Snyder said after the game. "It was in a lot of ways, so huge, so unbelievable. We had the Washington loss which kind of put us behind the eight ball to go to the Rose Bowl. To come in here and win, and I think Stanford had the intangibles--playing at home and coming off a loss, was great. We were focused and determined and the win keeps us in the race for a major bowl game and even the Rose Bowl."