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Louisville outslugs Boise State

Published Aug. 24, 2005

In the highest scoring Liberty Bowl, a defensive play by Louisville ended Boise State's 22-game win streak.

Kerry Rhodes intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired to preserve No. 7 Louisville's 44-40 victory over No. 10 Boise State on Friday.

"It's a great way to end it," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. "A national audience, two teams that were supposed to score over 84 points. I think we hit it right on the top."

The game featured the nation's top two offenses, and they didn't disappoint as they swapped the lead five times. The 84 combined points topped the 80 by Colorado and Alabama in 1969.

It also was the biggest game for Boise State, which moved up to Division I-A in 1996 and had played its first three bowls on its homefield. But the Broncos finished with 284 yards offense, well below their 511.6-yard average.

"This was big for us," Broncos receiver Chris Carr said. "We don't see ourselves as a non-BCS school or a little school. We see ourselves on the same level as any school we play.

"We wanted to come out here and prove to everybody that we're not a team in the WAC that's not very good and we just beat up on little teams."

Boise State led 34-21 early in the third after scoring 24 straight. But Stefan LeFors drove Louisville 81 yards in eight plays, capped by a 14-yard touchdown to J.R. Russell. LeFors gave Louisville the lead at 35-34 when he ran in from 1 yard with 2:17 left in the third.

Boise State last led at 40-35 when Jon Helmandollar plunged in from 2 yards with 10:51 left.

Eric Shelton scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6:48 left for the Cardinals, who have never finished ranked higher than 13th and matched a school record for victories at 11-1.

The Broncos had one last chance to win after Art Carmody's 19-yard field goal with 1:10 left put Louisville up four.

Jared Zabransky drove the Broncos to the Louisville 30 before his pass into the end zone was intercepted by Rhodes. He more than atoned for his missed interception opportunity in a 41-38 loss on Oct. 14 to then-No. 3 Miami.

"God blessed me to put me in position to make the play, and I made the play," Rhodes said.

Sub lifts Arizona State

EL PASO, Texas _ In his first start, Sam Keller threw a 19-yard touchdown to Rudy Burgess with 44 seconds left to lead No. 21 Arizona State to a 27-23 victory over Purdue in the Sun Bowl.

Starting for the injured Andrew Walter, Keller went 25-of-45 for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

"I've never been so ready for anything my entire life," said Keller, who finished 25-of-45 for 370 yards and three touchdowns. "I had a ton of confidence coming into the game but I still didn't really know what to expect."

Burgess, who wasn't named the starter until Hakim Hill was kicked off the team this week for breaking unspecified team rules, had 189 yards of offense and two touchdowns. Derek Hagan added nine receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown for the Sun Devils, who had lost their three previous bowl games.

Trailing 20-16, Purdue's Kyle Orton misfired on three consecutive passes. Then on fourth down, Brandon Jones fumbled at the end of a 24-yard catch with 3:22 left. But Arizona State gave Purdue another chance when punter Chris McDonald struggled to field a snap and Bernard Pollard blocked the punt.

Taking over at the Sun Devils 36, Orton completed a 20-yard pass to Taylor Stubblefield, then lofted a 6-yard touchdown to 6-foot-6 tight end Charles Davis for a 23-20 lead with 1:14 left.

But after a touchback, Walter, a sophomore, completed three consecutive passes: 3 yards to Moey Mutz, 32 yards to Terry Richardson and 26 yards to Hagan. Burgess caught Keller's next throw on a screen, slipped two tackles along the sideline and cut back inside en route to the end zone to cap the 31-second drive.

"I'm going to share my MVP trophy with Rudy," Keller said. "I just tossed the ball to him and he did the rest."

Gophers hold off Tide

NASHVILLE _ Marion Barber III ran for 187 yards and a touchdown and teammate Laurence Maroney 105 yards to lead Minnesota to a 20-16 win over Alabama in the Music City Bowl.

Barber and Maroney were the only runners to go over 100 yards this season against the Crimson Tide, who entered with the nation's second-ranked defense.

Alabama held Auburn to just 74 rushing yards in its final game, but Barber said he wasn't impressed.

"I never looked at that," he said. "We just came in more prepared."

The Golden Gophers ran for 276 yards to overcome three turnovers, including two by Barber, on their first three drives. They scored 17 straight after falling behind 7-0 when Barber fumbled on the game's second play.

The Tide scored on the next play when Spencer Pennington threw a 2-yard touchdown to Le'Ron McClain. Barber also threw an interception deep in Alabama territory, and Bryan Cupito threw an interception.

Minnesota almost gave the game away. Rhys Lloyd, who made field goals from 27 and 24 yards, missed a 24-yarder with 5:34 left that would have made it 23-14. On Minnesota's next possession, it was pinned deep in its end and took a safety to make it 20-16 rather than punt.

Tyrone Prothro returned the free kick to the Minnesota 48, and four completions by Pennington got the Tide to the 15. But Pennington overthrew an open receiver for a likely touchdown on third down and couldn't convert fourth and 5 with 1:14 left.

Gophers coach Glen Mason admitted he was worried because Minnesota lost games late against Michigan and Iowa.

"When we missed the field goal that would have put us in pretty good shape, I said, "Here we go again,' " he said. "I know if I'm thinking that, so are our kids. But we fought through."