Sept. 23, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Daymeion Hughes read Rudy Carpenter's eyes, intercepted his pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown - and he even stepped on the Arizona State quarterback on the way to the end zone.
California walked all over the Sun Devils in a 49-21 victory Saturday, and Hughes' pivotal pick capped a 42-point first half that showed the No. 21 Golden Bears have made significant strides in the last three weeks.
"That was the end of it, right there," Hughes said of his interception and romp past would-be tackler Carpenter. "When you get rolling like that, football is a fun game."
DeSean Jackson caught one of Nate Longshore's four touchdown passes and returned a punt 80 yards for a score against the 22nd-ranked Sun Devils (3-1, 0-1 Pac-10), who couldn't keep up with Cal's dizzying speed on both sides of the ball.
Lynch, Lavelle Hawkins and Justin Forsett also caught TD passes for the Bears (3-1, 1-0), who scored four touchdowns in a 7 1/2-minute span of the first half. Longshore passed for 270 yards and Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 in Cal's third straight impressive victory after season-opening loss at Tennessee, when the Bears were ranked No. 9.
"In coach (Jeff) Tedford's offense, anybody can come up and be the man at any time," said Jackson, who has seven touchdowns in four games. "You've just got to be ready to make a play. Everybody was ready today."
Hughes and Mickey Pimentel returned two of Cal's four interceptions for scores, punctuating a terrible day for Carpenter. Ryan Torain's career-high 191 yards rushing and two scores weren't enough for the Sun Devils.
Hughes' fourth career TD return with 26 seconds left capped the Golden Bears' highest-scoring half in their Pac-10 history - one week after they scored the same number of first-half points against Portland State. Cal has racked up 1,442 total yards and 133 points in its last three games.
By the final minutes, Arizona State's once-pressing defense was back on its heels in soft coverage. Even worse, Carpenter seemed to be confused by the Cal defense on every play.
"Our defensive line did a great job pressuring him, and he doesn't respond real well to pressure," said Hughes, who has five interceptions in three games. "We knew that, and we took advantage of it. He didn't look real confident in the pocket."
Carpenter, who beat out now-transferred Sam Keller for the starting job, went 16-of-35 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, and had a key fumble in addition to his interceptions. Carpenter has thrown eight interceptions this season after throwing just two in 228 attempts last season.
"They started blitzing us, and Rudy had a hard time getting into the rhythm," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "When the pressure builds, even the routine plays become tough. This is exactly what happened to Cal at Tennessee."
Arizona State's latest trip to Memorial Stadium went downhill from its game-opening 12-play scoring drive, culminating in Torain's 9-yard TD catch.
After throwing two incompletions on Cal's first drive, Longshore competed nine straight throws for 172 yards and three TDs. Cal drove 80 yards for Forsett's 9-yard TD catch later in the first quarter, then took the lead with back-to-back dynamite plays.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop recovered Carpenter's fumble on a sack at the Arizona State 31, and Longshore then hit Hawkins in tight coverage down the Cal sideline for a score on the next snap.
Jackson caught a short punt early in the second quarter and sped through the Sun Devils' coverage team for an 80-yard score. Two minutes later, Longshore hit Jackson for 52 yards and then found Lynch for a 23-yard TD.
"A better team showed up. They outplayed us," Arizona State safety Zach Catanese said. "They game-planned us pretty well. They seemed to know when we were in (each defensive scheme)."
Carpenter hit Terry Richardson for a 49-yard TD early in the third quarter, but the Sun Devils never found a rhythm. Pimentel scored with 8 minutes left, blitzing and deflecting Carpenter's pass to himself before leaping over the goal line for a 20-yard TD.
Syd'Quan Thompson grabbed Cal's final interception with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
Rudy Burgess, Arizona State's top wide receiver, didn't make the trip after injuring his neck last week. Keegan Herring, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry in the Sun Devils' first three games, didn't touch the ball after straining his hamstring last week.