In 2012, Stanford’s defense is greatly improved, but its offense is not. Thus, two second-half Washington touchdowns sprung the Huskies to a come from behind upset of the No. 8 Cardinal, 17-13, on the Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field.
Trent Murphy returned a third-quarter interception for a touchdown in the late third. Stanford led 13-3 after an uneventful first half and looked like it would survive the Thursday night tilt.
But an ugly contest that saw both defenses dominate left Stanford’s offensive brain trust searching frantically for answers when they were most needed. After Josh Nunes and the Stanford passing attack again struggled mightily, this time in their first road game of the season, the Card offense’s second-half success against USC now appears a mirage.
Admittedly, Ty Montgomery dropped several long passes, while Nunes threw a nice deep ball and managed to avoid several sacks, but there’s no way to put this delicately: with mediocre quarterbacking, Stanford wins this one with ease.
Still, as brilliant as their offense was putrid, Stanford’s front seven looked like it would carry the day. Murphy had the unit’s iconic play, avoiding a cut block, leaping to make a deflection on an attempted screen, landing and corralling the pigskin, and then outracing Washington players fifty pounds lighter to the end zone.
Washington quickly countered, however. Stanford packed the box on a fourth and one on the third quarter’s final snap, leaving no one to stop Bishop Sankey after he broke two ankle tackles. The Cardinal
The Huskies had pulled to within 13-10, and would complete the comeback with five minutes remaining in the contest. Kasen Williams caught a screen pass in the right flat, turned upfield, pushed away a Stanford defender and scored the 35-yard game-winner before Ed Reynolds could strip him.
Stanford had one last chance, advancing into Husky territory with two minutes left on the strength of a solid Montgomery kickoff return and two Zach Ertz receptions (and a prevent Washington defense). But, on Stanford’s last series, a streaking Montgomery (again) dropped a potential touchdown and the Cardinal (yet again) committed a delay of game penalty. The five penalty yards proved crucial when Nunes overthrew Levine Toilolo on a fourth-and-four fade.
On Washington’s next possession, Ben Gardner jumped offsides on third and four to yield the clinching first down. It was yet another error in a night chockfull of mistakes, a fitting way for Stanford’s loudest 2012 dreams to come to a resounding thud.
That’s our take. The other scribes’ takes are here.
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