Anyone else feeling a tale of two halves? The defense shows up, the offense show up, we take a lead and never look back? It doesn’t start well, though, as Utah converts on a third and short. Make that two conversions, as Utah hits a blanketed receiver. Not much we could do there, just great execution. Now three first-down conversions, the last off the zone read, which we couldn’t stop versus Oregon last week, and can’t stop this week either. More zone read, now with flare passes right off the snap, and Utah is into the Cardinal red zone. Need a stop here… Stanford does get a stuff on a second and four give up the middle, bringing up another big third down. And the turnover streak lives! Joe Hemschoot intercepts a tipped ball that Travis Wilson forced in on third down. Had Hemschoot kept his feet, he might have had a huge return.
Now the offense is following the script we laid out at halftime: Lean on the big guns. It’s a dumpoff to Hewitt for positive yardage, and then Gaffney carrying over right tackle to advance to the Cardinal 40. We’re getting back to who we are. But Hogan is just outside on a play-action that bought loads of time, and Eddie Plantaric can’t pull it in. Hogan converts on the third down, scrambling for five. Montgomery drops a second-down slant, bringing up another big third and seven. The defense holds up Montgomery short of the sticks on an inside screen, and Utah rips it from his grasp. Now the defense needs another stop, with the score still 21-14 Utah midway through the third. Utah will have it near midfield.
Utah is working on a cut on Travis Wilson’s throwing hand on the sidelines. Could be significant as this game progresses. Both it’s a Utah first down after yet another zone read screen. The Utes probably have 100 yards on that play alone, with 18 to Dres Anderson on the last snap. The Utes are also doing a great job of running clock, with under five minutes now in the third quarter. Stanford forces a third and five at their 28, but Wilson scrambles to his right for nine to move the chains. Wilson then keeps to the three on the next snap, faking a handoff to his right before running, spinning and diving for the goalline. The Cardinal snuff out a run up the middle and a screen to bring up third and goal from the two. Utah’s 6-of-10 tonight on third downs, but Murphy drops Wilson behind the line. Utah’s field goal is good, however, and the Cardinal really wish they had Jordan Williamson’s miss back right now.
Utah 24, Stanford 14, 2:02 remaining, third quarter
Stanford starts at its 35 after the Utes squib to Jackson Cummings. Given how quickly the Utes are draining the clock, the Cardinal need a score on this drive. Maybe Utah will help us out and play prevent. Instead, it’s a hold on David Yankey on a two-yard run. Hogan finds Cajuste to get that yardage back on first down. We’re not running quickly enough here, instead we’re letting the clock drain as we get in our play calls. Hogan tries to scramble and fumbles on second down as he tries to shift from his right to left hand; Utah recovers. Uh oh. After one run, the third quarter is over, and it’s not looking good…
Utah 24, Stanford 14
Where did the time go?
When you can’t stop the run and allow opponents to bleed clock with 12- and 10-play drives, time runs quickly. Only two minutes remained in the third quarter when the Cardinal got their second possession of the half. The margin for error has shrunk considerably.
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