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Tavita Pritchard: QB'ed the 2007 upset at USC
Quarterback Tavita Pritchard’s career statistics are not overwhelming.
From 2006 to 2009, he was 7-13 as a starting quarterback, completed a modest 53.9 percent of his passes for 2,865 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 24 interceptions and 6.1 yards per attempt.
But statistics don’t measure leadership and will to win, and Pritchard was at his best in two memorable games for the Cardinal that helped turn the program around.
The first was the historic 24-23 upset over USC in the Coliseum in October 2007. The Cardinal were six-touchdown underdogs to Pete Carroll’s second-ranked Trojans.
Pressed into action by an injury to starting quarterback T.C. Ostrander, Pritchard made his first college start at USC that night. Unfazed by the point spread or the raucous Coliseum crowd of over 85,000, Pritchard coolly led Stanford to 17 fourth-quarter points for the improbable victory.
As the fourth quarter began, he capped a 75-yard drive with a 37-yard completion to wide receiver Mark Bradford. From there, running back Anthony Kimble scored to bring Stanford to within 16-14.
After USC scored to go up 23-14, Pritchard guided a methodical 16-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a field goal, cutting the deficit to 23-17.
Then, after an interception of USC quarterback John David Booty, on Stanford’s next and final drive, Pritchard twice converted 4th-and-long for two of the most exciting plays in Cardinal annals.
First, Pritchard connected with Richard Sherman on 4th-and-20 to the USC 9-yard line with 1:38 remaining. Three plays later, Pritchard won the game with a last-minute, 4th-and-goal touchdown toss to Mark Bradford for the deciding score.
That game proved to the Stanford players that they could indeed compete with any opponent, and while they finished 2007 at 4-8, the culture on The Farm was changing.
By 2009, the Andrew Luck era was underway. Pritchard dutifully accepted the backup role, mentoring Luck as Stanford had its first winning season in eight years.
Stanford went 8-4 and was invited to the Sun Bowl, against Oklahoma. Alas, Luck had suffered a broken finger in the season finale, and so Pritchard was summoned to start at quarterback.
Again, Pritchard rose to the occasion, leading the Cardinal to a 24-17 halftime advantage. While the Sooners rallied late for a 31-27 win, Stanford showed that it could match up against a Big 12 powerhouse.
Pritchard is now an assistant coach on David Shaw’s staff.