On a night when Tony Soprano spent the majority of the game on the sidelines, it was somewhat ironic there was a shootout on the field. Not a real shootout, of course, but a wild display of offense in Arizona State’s 45-40 win over Rutgers in the final Cactus Bowl at Chase Field.
James Gandolfini, who plays the New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano on the hit series “The Sopranos,” served as an honorary captain for his alma mater Rutgers, while talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was the honorary captain for the Sun Devils.
Neither “captain” could have done much for the defenses, as the two teams combined for 1,211 yards, setting a bowl game record that broke the previous NCAA mark of 1,158 yards by Hawaii and Houston in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl.
It was just the second-ever bowl appearance in Rutgers’ history and first since the 1978 Garden State Bowl. But the Scarlet Knights didn’t come out tentative, as they jumped out to a 24-10 lead in the second quarter.
The Sun Devils gained some momentum just before halftime on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rudy Carpenter to Zach Miller to cut the lead to 24-17 and tied the game on their first possession in the second half on a 1-yard touchdown run by Rudy Burgess.
After the teams exchanged leads in the third quarter, Arizona State took the lead for good in the fourth quarter on 42-yard touchdown pass from Carpenter to Matt Miller
Carpenter, a red-shirt freshman, completed 23-of-35 passes for 467 yards and four touchdowns to earn offensive player of the game honors in a game that featured plenty of offensive stars.
Rutgers senior quarterback Ryan Hart also had a big game, throwing for 374 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman Ray Rice had 108 yards rushing on 20 attempts.