PHOENIX (AP)—They closed the roof at the Insight Bowl on Tuesday night and an Arena Football League game broke out.
At least that’s the way it seemed as the teams mowed up and down the field for 1,211 yards, a record for any bowl game, before Arizona State escaped with a 45-40 victory over Rutgers.
Rudy Carpenter threw for 467 yards and four touchdowns and Arizona State amassed an Insight Bowl-record 679 yards.
The total yards broke the NCAA mark of 1,158 set by Hawaii and Houston in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl.
The Scarlet Knights (7-5), in their second bowl game in school history and first since 1978, led 33-31 after Jeremy Ito’s 48-yard field goal with 12:56 to play.
But the favored Sun Devils (7-5) took the lead for good when, on second-and-25, Carpenter threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Matt Miller. The two-point conversion pass to Brent Miller was good and Arizona State led 39-33 with 10 minutes left.
“My biggest fear, if there was one, was getting into a shootout with this team,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “There’s been nobody that’s really stopped them.”
Consecutive false start penalties ruined Rutgers’ next possession, and the Sun Devils scored again on an eight-play, 69-yard drive, Rudy Burgess getting his second TD of the night on a four-yard run to put Arizona State up 45-33 with 4:26 remaining.
Ryan Hart’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Tres Moses kept it close at 45-40 with 2 minutes to go, but Zach Miller recovered the onside kick and the Sun Devils ran out the clock to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since 1987.
“That,” Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said, “was a fun game to be a part of.”
Hart, in his final game for Rutgers, completed 24-of-38 for 374 yards and three scores.
“It was a tough loss but I had so much fun tonight,” Hart said. “Me throwing my last college pass for a touchdown, I’ll never forget that.”
Burgess had 103 yards in 16 carries. Ray Rice, the Knights’ 18-year-old freshman, gained 108 yard in 20 attempts.
Ito kicked four field goals, including a career-best and bowl-record 52-yarder.
Carpenter, a redshirt freshman who took over for injured Sam Keller eight games into the season, completed 23-of-35 passes and was not intercepted. He had touchdown passes of 43 and 42 yards to Matt Miller, a 1-yarder to Zach Miller and a 22-yard TD toss to Terry Richardson.
“Before the game I just felt good,” Carpenter said. “I was getting off the bus and told the coaches that if this was a basketball game, I could score 50 points.”
Rutgers led 24-10 in the first half before Arizona State scored late to make it 24-17 at the break.
“Let’s face it, we were lucky, lucky, lucky to be down by one touchdown in the first half,” Koetter said. “In the first half, we were embarrasseed.”
The Scarlet Knights went 80 yards in eight plays on the game’s first possession. Hart was 4-for-4 on the drive. His 21-yarder to Moses put the ball on the 14, and his 12-yard pass to brian Leonard made it first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Hart threw a yard to Clark Harris for the touchdown.
Arizona State matched it with an 80-yard drive after the kickoff. Carpenter connected with Matt Miller for the 43-yard score.
Rutgers mowed through the ASU defense again on its next possession. Brian Leonard took a short pass from Hart and gained 38 yards, then caught another and ran 31 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown to put the Scarlet Knights ahead 14-7 with 8:51 still to go in the first quarter.
Preston Jones fumbled the next time Arizona State had the ball, and Ramel Meekins recovered at the ASU 46. The subsequent Rutgers drive stalled at the Sun Devils 8, and Ito’s 25-yard field goal made it 17-7 with 5:22 remaining in the first quarter.
Leonard’s two-yard TD run put the Scarlet Knights up 24-10 2:29 before halftime.
That was plenty of time for ASU, averaging more than 500 yards per game, to go 80 yards. Carpenter tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Zach Miller to cut the lead to 24-17 with 39 seconds to go in the half.
The Sun Devils tied it on their first possession of the second half. Carpenter’s 40-yard pass to Jamaal Lewis set up a 1-yard TD run by Burgess that made it 24-24.
Arizona State took its first lead, 31-27, with 6:37 left in the third quarter on Carpenter’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Terry Richardson, who redeemed himself after a personal foul penalty threatened to stall the drive.