Colorado squeaks past Stanford, 16-13

November 12, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 12, 2019

Stanford dropped a 16-13 decision at Colorado on Saturday when a dismal offensive outing by the Cardinal was supplemented by crucial second-half breakdowns on defense and special teams.

Redshirt freshman Evan Price won the game on Colorado’s homecoming weekend by hitting a 37-yard kick as time expired, his third field goal of the game. Stanford (4-5 overall, 3-4 in league) had taken a 13-10 lead 55 seconds into the fourth quarter thanks to a 79-yard touchdown throw from K.J. Costello to Simi Fehoko, but the Buffalo (4-6, 2-5) came back by mounting two methodical field-goal drives that ate up an astonishing 12 minutes and 31 seconds of the final period.

Colorado took the opening kickoff and mounted a nine-play, 75-yard drive that came mostly on the ground. Senior quarterback Steven Montez capped the series with a 13-yard rushing touchdown, the biggest gain of the possession.

Senior quarterback K.J. Costello, making just his fifth start in an injury-plagued season, led the Cardinal to a 40-yard field goal by freshman Ryan Sanborn.

The Buffalo offense picked up where it had left off, moving 39 yards in six plays before senior free safety J.J. Parson picked off Montez at the visitor 25-yard line.

Costello came out throwing. He completed a throw to Connor Wedington for a short loss before connecting with Colby Parkinson for 11 yards and Osiris St. Brown for 31 yards, all on the first three snaps of the possession. The latter throw set up first down at the home 20, but after Costello threw incompletions on second and third down, Sanborn booted a 36-yarder from the Colorado 17. That cut the Cardinal deficit to 7-6.

After the visitors forced a Colorado punt, the Cardinal offense gained 40 yards on six plays before Costello was intercepted by junior safety Derrion Rakestraw at the Colorado 20. The Buffalo then extended their lead to 10-6 when Price hit a 34-yard kick with 32 seconds left before halftime.

Stanford got the second-half kickoff for a drive that was marred by two key penalties. Cameron Scarlett’s 13-yard rush on the first play was offset in part by a 10-yard personal foul assessed to freshman wide receiver Elijah Higgins. Later, St. Brown was flagged for holding, which meant that freshman Nathaniel Peat’s 11-yard scamper to the home 10 resulted in first and nine at the Colorado 20. The drive stalled at the 14, and Sanborn’s 32-yard field-goal try went wide right. Those were yards, and points, that the Cardinal would dearly love to have had by game’s end.

Stanford trailed 10-6 early in the fourth quarter when the offense faced third and 15 at their own 21. Costello dropped back from a shotgun formation and targeted Fehoko on a crossing route. The sophomore wideout made the catch unmolested at the visitor 35 and then turned on the jets for a 79-yard touchdown, his fourth of the season.

Stanford’s 13-10 lead, its first of the game, proved to be short-lived. Alex Fontenot (18 runs, 95 yards) converted fourth and one at the Cardinal 31. Two snaps later, junior cornerback Paulson Adebo’s hands got tangled up with Fontenot’s facemask as the Stanford defender dove in to assist freshman inside linebacker Tristan Sinclair drop the ball carrier for a one-yard loss. A personal foul was correctly assessed, advancing Colorado to Stanford’s 14-yard line. A few snaps later, Price hit a 23-yard field goal to tie the game, 13-13, with 7:34 left in regulation.

Given a chance to assert itself and shape the direction of the game, the Cardinal offense fell just short. Following Colorado’s kickoff, freshman running back Austin Jones rushed for seven yards. But Costello threw incomplete on second down, and his third-down throw went to Wedington, who was dropped a yard shy of the line to gain.

Colorado got the ball back with six minutes on the clock and never relinquished the ball. Montez threw an incomplete pass on third and nine at the home 42; however, the Buffalo were bailed out because freshman cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly drew a pass interference penalty. That gave the home team a first down at the Stanford 43.

The Cardinal defense held freshman tailback Jaren Mangham to no gain on third and one at the Stanford 34 with less than two minutes on the clock. Head coach Mel Tucker kept his offense on the field, which worked out when junior wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. (eight catches, 91 yards) converted fourth down with a five-yard run.

On the next play, Montez completed a 12-yard throw to K.D. Nixon. That set up first down at the 17 with less than a minute remaining, meaning that Stanford’s hopes came down to either a turnover or a miss by Price.

Neither happened, and the Colorado native’s 37-yard kick split the uprights to break a five-game losing streak. Price was carried off the field following the 16-13 decision.

Stanford once again finds itself on the wrong end of the .500 mark. With just three games left in the season, the team will have to dig deep if it’s to extend its bowl .

Helpful links

Stanford-Colorado team statistics — ESPN
Stanford-Colorado box score
Stanford-Colorado play-by-play
Stanford-Colorado interactive box score —
Stanford-Colorado statistics (PDF) —
Stanford 2019–20 football roster
Colorado 2019–20 football roster
Game tweets — @memomoment

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