The Stanford defense couldn't stop Keith Price for the first 58 minutes, but it made the necessary plays when it had to.
The Cardinal stopped the Washington offense on downs and got rushing touchdowns from Kevin Hogan and Tyler Gaffney, as they defeated the Huskies, 31-28, at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night.
Washington's hopes were dashed on a fourth-down call that's sure to draw some criticism in Seattle. Twice evading the Stanford rush to break free from the pocket and nearly stumbling to the turf, Price unleashed a what looked like a completed pass to Kevin Smith for the conversion. Ruled a catch on the field, the Huskies raced to the line to get the subsequent play off, but the replay official buzzed down to the field just in time.
Though the camera angles didn't show perfect views of the play, the ball looked to hit the turf before Smith could corral it and the play was overturned, giving the ball back to Stanford for victory formation. It was the second time on the drive that the Huskies had a play go to the booth, only the one they needed the most came back with a negative result.
Though a win in the standings, the Cardinal likely feel lucky to get out of their home stadium with that win.
Hogan managed only 100 yards through the air while completing 12 of 20 passes, tossing a touchdown and an interception. His inability to convert on a 3rd-and-1 situation also helped set up Washington's thrilling last stanza. The Stanford quarterback had 10 carries total for 37 yards, with a critical third-quarter touchdown helping create a cushion. Gaffney also had a nondescript evening, carrying the ball 19 times and gaining 72 yards.
Instead, the star for Stanford's side was wide receiver Ty Montgomery. The explosive junior produced a Pac-12 season-high 290 all-purpose yards on Saturday, including two touchdowns. He took the game's opening kick back 99 yards for a touchdown en route to producing 204 return yards and caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Hogan in the second quarter.
For most of the night, Montgomery was the Cardinal's only form of offense.
Washington had no such troubles. Price completed 33 of 48 passes for 350 yards, tossing two touchdowns against one interception. Jaydon Mickens and Smith were the two touchdown recipients. Running back Bishop Sankey also had a nice night, finishing with 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington had 30 first downs compared to Stanford's 14. The Huskies outgained their counterparts 489 to 279 in total yards, averaging more yards per play and converting a higher percentage of their third downs. No matter the statistical aspect, the Huskies came out on top.
But where Stanford came up with plays when needed, Washington managed to shoot itself in the foot.
The Huskies committed 10 penalties that cost them 89 yards, including a 15-yard roughing penalty that helped catalyze a Stanford scoring drive in the third quarter. They committed only one turnover, but it was the one that ultimately came back to haunt them.
Down inside the Stanford 10-yard line with a 1st-and-goal situation, the 6'1" Price unloaded a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The ball hung in the air seemingly forever as Cardinal players rushed to get their hands on it, with linebacker A.J. Tarpley in the right place at the right time to create the turnover. The pick halted an 18-play Huskies drive without a point.
Tarpley's pick also helped Stanford extend its streak to 29 straight games with a takeaway, the second-best mark in the nation.
With the win, the Cardinal bring their record to 5-0, but likely won't see much of a change in the rankings. Each of the nation's top five teams in the Associated Press poll won on Saturday. On the other side of the field, Washington may have garnered more respect on Saturday simply by coming so close.
Nevertheless, that's faint praise for a team that likely feels it left a program-altering win in Palo Alto.
Keith Price (QB, Washington): A
To pick apart this Stanford defense on any stage would be a feat worth commendation. To do it on a national stage on the road while looking for your program's biggest win in recent memory? It's hard to effusively praise Keith Price enough.
The Washington quarterback moved his team up and down the field with ease against a unit that had allowed opponents a 52.1 percent completion percentage heading into Saturday. The Cardinal had allowed only six touchdowns against nine interceptions.
Price subverted all expectations. He avoided the pitfalls of his lost junior season by staying poised in the pocket and continually making smart throws. Even his interception came on a tipped pass, a play that happened more by sheer chance than a mistake from the Washington signal-caller.
While Price rests firmly behind Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and perhaps even Hogan on the Pac-12 quarterback hierarchy, nights like Saturday prove he belongs in that conversation more than most would expect.
Ty Montgomery (WR, Stanford): A
If we're choosing to be positive in this section—and since this was such a great game, I'll assume most will be—it's hard to pick anyone else but Montgomery for recognition. With Hogan and Gaffney turning in performances befitting a major upset, the Cardinal's most explosive offensive threat just wouldn't quit.
His opening return for a touchdown and subsequent touchdown catch in the second quarter put Stanford ahead 17-7, a cushion it would need big time by the end of the game. Washington countered Montgomery's early outburst by trying to limit his effect as much as possible, but he still managed to average 35 yards per return even when you subtract his 99-yard score.
There wasn't much on either side of the ball to be thrilled about. It's just a good thing Montgomery came to play.
The fifth-ranked Cardinal tone down the difficulty next week when they hit the road to take on a Utah squad that's 0-2 in the Pac-12 thus far. Washington, meanwhile, has no such luck, as it will host second-ranked Oregon next Saturday.
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