Close, But Not Enough
Giving a solid effort, but failing to take advantage of numerous Duck turnovers (some of which had to be kharmic retribution for an even more hideous home uniform than Gang Green usually displays), the drenched Cardinal defense was inadequately stout at the end of a rain-soaked squabble, dropping a heartbreaker in Eugene by the score of 35-28. Nobody's patsy anymore, Stanford had battled back valiantly to tie and eventually take a 28-27 lead thanks to a very well executed Bo McNally fake field goal and a late Anthony Kimble TD, only to allow Oregon to drive the length of the field and score a game-icing touchdown with just seconds left - an eerily similar finish to the UCLA game two weeks earlier, although admittedly this time the frustration came against a team far superior to the Bruins. The fast and talented Ducks could not be stopped on the ground this afternoon, running up. Senior Anthony Kimble took over the lead role in the running game after Toby Gerhart pulled a groin muscle (#7 did return) and produced a 100+ yard rushing game and scored on a controversial, but correctly-called touchdown that appeared to give his team a very real shot at a win and post-season bowl eligibility. But alas, there were still two minutes left. The defensive staff took a risk, deciding once more against aggressively attacking a less-than stellar quarterback down the stretch and it did not work out. Interestingly it was Stanford's own unfortunate lack of remaining time outs that made clock management impossible down the stretch. Oregon fired the final salvo and the Cardinal simply ran out of time to answer. It was a day of too much Jeremiah Johnson and too much Lagarrette Blount. Pretty tough guys to bring down.
As painful as the finish was, it was another piece of evidence demonstrating the improvement this team has made from recent years when Stanford was getting rolled at Autzen. The Ducks knew they were in a battle today and tried their best to give us the ball game with a rash of fumbles. The season is far from over. We get three strikes and this was the first. On to preparations for the Trojans.
More thoughts later - have to go check out the Cardinal hoops team in an exhibition against Seattle-Pacific. Not really much of an opportunity for revenge against the Pacific Northwest on a rainy night in Palo Alto, but it might keep a few of us from wishing for a merciful lightning strike tonight!
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