Jackson really gets to Carpenter

Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. -- USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson hit Rudy Carpenter with a pop that sent a shiver through the Arizona State quarterback in the third quarter.

The hit left Carpenter with a split lip and bubbling frustration. Carpenter threw his helmet 15 yards toward the sideline while he was spitting blood and cursing.

“He’s a feisty guy,” Jackson said after USC’s 44-24 win over Arizona State on Thursday night. “We were having some words at the coin toss. He’s always been a good quarterback, very resourceful and hard to get down. I told him we were going to come after him today. Then I got his lip a little bloody; he was pretty upset and said not so nice words after that play.”


Carpenter’s words didn’t bother Jackson and neither did Arizona State’s offensive line. Jackson had eight tackles. Carpenter was sacked six times, and four of those belonged to Jackson.

It was the most sacks in a game by a Trojan since Tim Ryan had four against UCLA in 1989. But that statistic didn’t bring any particular pleasure to Jackson, just as knocking Carpenter down didn’t make Jackson celebrate on or off the field.

“It felt good to be able to come out here on Thanksgiving,” Jackson said. “We’ve got family back home watching the game. Hitting Carpenter hard was my only goal, and he got a little frustrated after a couple of hits. That’s what football does to you.”

After the game Carpenter, a junior, was more circumspect. “They came to hit tonight,” he said. “That is the one thing they did do. They hit me, and they hit me good.”

Almost overlooked in all of USC’s offensive fireworks was the fact that the Trojans gave up only 16 yards rushing (fewest this season) and the fact that one Sun Devils touchdown was on a 98-yard kickoff return and one came well after the game was decided in the fourth quarter.

And the third came only because an Arizona State drive was kept alive after Trojans defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis sacked Carpenter for an 11-yard loss on a second-and-10 play. Ellis walked away from Carpenter, raised both arms and flexed his muscles. For that Ellis was penalized 15 yards for taunting.


“I’ve been doing that for two years,” Ellis said. “I’ve never been flagged for that before. Different refs see different things. I had no intent to be malicious. It’s a celebration I’ve always done. I won’t be doing it anymore.”

Defensive coordinator Nick Holt said he had a sense for the last 10 days that Jackson was aching to have an outstanding game. “Lawrence had a great week of practice,” Holt said. “He showed that tonight by playing lights-out. He’s played really well the whole year but tonight finally he just dominated. When a good player practices hard and well, that’s what happens.”

Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior, came closest to bragging when he agreed his performance Thursday night might impress NFL scouts. But he was even more quick to give credit to the cornerbacks on his first sack of the game, in the second quarter when Arizona State had a fourth and one on the USC 33.

“The coaches made a great call, they had me in a good situation,” he said. “It was an inside slant that they didn’t pick up so well. Our cornerbacks were lights-out tonight. They made the quarterback eat the ball.” And Jackson made Carpenter eat his lip.