Winless in Seattle: Cardinal rally comes up short in 27-23 loss to Washington

November 9, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 9, 2018

Washington defeated Stanford last weekend, 27-23, to hand the Cardinal their fourth loss in five games. The Huskies, now 7-3 overall and 5-2 in conference, winnowed down the field of potential Pac-12 Northern Division champions to either themselves or Washington State. Stanford fell to 5-4 (3-3) after beginning the season 4-0; the team is still searching for bowl eligibility with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Cardinal showed off some of its worst tendencies on Saturday night in Seattle. The team turned in another scoreless first quarter, its fifth of the season, and another disastrous first half.

The offense opened with a trio of three-and-outs that saw Stanford hold the ball for less than five minutes. The last of those drives ended in a Byron Murphy interception on a fifty-fifty ball that K.J. Costello attempted to throw to Trenton Irwin. The pick led to Washington’s third touchdown, giving them a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter that the hosts would take into intermission.

Costello and company came back with an eight-play, 54-yard series that ended when diving defensive lineman Greg Gaines managed to snag a tipped ball at the Huskies 35-yard line. The Stanford defense forced a punt in short order, but the Cardinal offense subsequently surrendered the ball on downs at the Washington 37 on an incomplete pass.

The defense returned the favor, with Casey Toohill and Thomas Booker sacking Jake Browning for a 10-yard loss on fourth and 8 at the Stanford 24 with 19 seconds remaining in the half.

The Cardinal was able to get first and goal at the Huskies’ 9 after catch-and-runs of 20 and 35 yards by Connor Wedington and Kaden Smith. But time ran out before the team could attempt a field goal.

After Washington’s offense was limited to a three-and-out on the initial drive of the third quarter, the Cardinal offense demonstrated that it still had the spark of promise it had flashed late in the second quarter. Stanford’s junior quarterback completed all five of his pass attempts, accounting for 62 yards on the eight-play, 61-yard drive. (Bryce Love also ran three times for a cumulative loss of one yard.) The possession was capped by a 14-yard touchdown catch by Smith, whose 27-yard reception earlier in the drive gave Stanford a fresh set of downs on third and eight.

The Huskies quickly moved the ball from their 25 to the Cardinal 10, but from that point on they only gained five yards on three runs. Peyton Henry then nailed a 22-yard field goal that put the Huskies up, 24-7, with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Stanford retaliated with a six-play, 67-yard march that centered on Love. The senior back ran four times for 30 yards, including a five-yard touchdown; Costello passes to Cameron Scarlett and Smith also resulted in gains of 14 and eight yards, respectively. Love’s scoring run, only his fourth of 2018, cut Stanford’s deficit to 24-14.

The Cardinal defense, much like their offensive counterparts, appeared to be gaining strength as the game went on. They held the Huskies to another three-and-out, giving Stanford the ball back with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. The Cardinal soon returned the ball, but the Huskies submitted another three-and-out. Their punt from the Washington 2-yard line gave the white-clad visitors another chance to get back in the game.

Costello threw to Colby Parkinson for a 25-yard gain, but Love was stopped at the line on first and third downs. Facing fourth and goal at the 3, head coach David Shaw sent in junior kicker Colin Riccitelli, substituting for injured fellow junior Jet Toner. The backup nailed a 21-yard kick on his first ever collegiate place-kick, reducing the Huskies’ lead to 24-17 with nine minutes to go.

Washington response was a nine-play, 54-yard series that saw Henry hit a 38-yard field goal with 5:09 remaining. That gave the hosts a two-score lead with time running down.

Stanford, which opened its reply with a 28-yard Love run, passed on four of the six plays on what became an 80-yard touchdown drive. The big gains were an 18-yard reception by Parkinson and a 33-yard scoring catch by Irwin. Riccitelli missed his third point-after kick of the game, and of his career, leaving the score 27-23 with 3:24 to play.

On their next play from scrimmage, the Huskies handed the ball to Myles Gaskin, who ran for 10 yards. He fumbled the ball after a play by senior inside linebacker Sean Barton, but tight end Drew Sample recovered for the Huskies. The Cardinal defense then forced a punt, which was downed at their 15-yard line with 2:05 on the clock; however, it came at the cost of all three of Stanford’s timeouts.

Shaw’s squad had to go 85 yards for a touchdown. They advanced to the Washington 34, mainly on 13- and 15-yard catches by Michael Wilson and Wedington, before having to spike the ball. Costello threw twice in the final 10 seconds, resulting in an incomplete pass and an end-zone interception by junior defensive back Taylor Rapp. The final play never had much of a chance, as the Huskies swarmed the Cardinal’s receivers in the end zone.

This was the second game in a row where the Cardinal made a desperate attempt to score on the final play. The team came up short both times. As a result, Stanford will need to beat two of its final three opponents in order to finish the regular season with a winning record.


Helpful links

Stanford-‪Washington team statistics — ESPN
Stanford-Washington box score
Stanford-Washington play-by-play
Stanford-Washington interactive box score —
Stanford-Washington static box score —
Stanford 2018–19 football roster
Washington 2018–19 football roster
Game (and some other) tweets — @memomoment

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