Posts Tagged ‘college football’

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-5 Stanford

November 13, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 13, 2019

The Pac-12 Networks, a production and broadcast organization wholly owned by the collegiate sports league whose name it bears, has famously limited availability. The conference’s system of regional channels for the Bay Area, Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and the mountain states (read: Colorado and Utah), plus a “main” conference channel, has never signed a distribution deal with DirecTV.

The Pac-12 Networks have only 19 million subscribers. That’s fewer than Fox’s Spanish-language sports channel and other TV powerhouses such as Great American Country, Justice Central, MaxPrime, Ovation Network and the Smithsonian Channel, according to SBNation.

When your team is mediocre, its games tend to be relegated to the Pac-12 Networks, which makes it very hard to watch said games. For Stanford’s demoralizing loss at Colorado, I met a buddy at a venue that doesn’t subscribe to the channel; we wound up listening to the KZSU radio feed through my phone on my pal’s Bluetooth earbuds. (We each used one of his buds — my phone is evidently incapable of connecting simultaneously to multiple Bluetooth devices.)

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Colorado squeaks past Stanford, 16-13

November 12, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
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.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-4 Stanford

October 29, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 29, 2019

The Arizona game marked the second time this year that a Stanford game was broadcast by the Pac-12 Network. Rather than attempt to find a bar or restaurant near my parent’s home that had the Dish Network, and hence carried any of the Pac-12 channels, I wound up listening to the KZSU broadcast of the game on my computer and phone.

(This was, I should note, partly because I took a long late-morning walk and then had a late lunch and then did some shopping, by which point it was 3 p.m. if not later.)

At any rate, Stanford wrapped up its victory right around 7 p.m. Eastern time, which worked out great for me!

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K.J. Costello returns to lead Stanford to a 41-31 homecoming victory over Arizona

October 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 28, 2019

K.J. Costello threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Stanford football team to a 41-31 win over Arizona on Saturday amid reunion festivities on the Farm.

The Cardinal, who moved to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the Pac-12, also got outstanding efforts from their most reliable offensive player, redshirt senior running back Cameron Scarlett (two scores and 102 yards on 19 carries), and their emerging star at wide receiver, sophomore Simi Fehoko (two touchdowns and 97 yards on just three catches).

Costello’s 30 completions on 43 throws went to an even dozen players, including himself on a curious play. In all, the offense rolled for 472 yards, a number second this season only to the 482 yards they compiled in their upset victory over Washington.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 3-4 Stanford

October 21, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 21, 2019

The day after Stanford’s brutal loss to UCLA, I realized that I hadn’t donned the possibly lucky Stanford wristband that I’d acquired at the alumni tailgate prior to the UCF debacle and worn during the thrilling victory over the University of Washington.

Was Thursday night’s defeat my fault?!

Anyway, I went to James Joyce Pub and watched Thursday evening’s game with a pal. Things did not go the way we’d hoped, to say the least, and the Bruins were able to beat Stanford for the first time since 2008. Ouch.

• The Bad

There was a whole lot of bad for the Cardinal on Thursday night. UCLA was the first team this season to beat Stanford in time of possession, 31:40 to 28:20; Stanford had led the league in the category, holding the ball 34 minutes and 58 seconds per game. The Bruins defense — which, as noted on Friday, was statistically the worst in the league entering the contest — held the Farm gridders to 198 yards of total offense, their worst output of 2019. UCLA’s previous opponent low was 373 yards of total defense allowed in a loss to San Diego State.

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Bruins maul Stanford, 34-16

October 18, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 18, 2019

Twelve days after turning in their best performance of the season, the Stanford football team put in arguably their worst Thursday evening with a 34-16 home loss to UCLA. The result gave the Bruins (2-5 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) their first win over Stanford since a 23-20 result in Pasadena in 2008, Jim Harbaugh’s second year at the helm of the Cardinal.

The Cardinal offense generated just nine points and 198 yards against the conference’s worst defense in dropping to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in league. The Cardinal defense allowed 455 yards to a Bruins attack that had only been averaging 397 yards to that point in the season.

It was a crushing comedown for a Stanford team that had seemed on the brink of pulling itself together after an injury-riddled start. The defeat left head coach David Shaw’s squad with immense uncertainty after the team’s third-string quarterback, sophomore Jack West, struggled mightily in his first collegiate start.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 3-3 Stanford

October 10, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 10, 2019

I had kind of a crazy night last weekend.

I watched the first part of Saturday’s Washington–Stanford game at Tobacco Road but deliberately left at halftime because of what happened the last time I’d watched the Cardinal play a night game at that location. I walked to my car, drove home and then walked to a sports bar near my house that I’d never visited, despite it having been open for something like two years.

I say that this venue was near my house, but in fact the walk there covered about three-quarters of a mile. I listened to the early part of the second half on my phone…

…and when I arrived at the front door, I noticed that this establishment closed at 1 a.m., which would be before the game’s conclusion. If I’d realized that, I never would have planned this visit.

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Stanford tames Huskies, 23-13

October 8, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 8, 2019

A scrappy Stanford team controlled the lines of scrimmage and played its best football game yet to beat No. 15 Washington on Saturday evening, 23-13.

Running back Cameron Scarlett and quarterback Davis Mills posted career-high marks of 151 rushing yards and 293 passing yards, respectively, as the unranked Cardinal improved to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

The game got off to a somewhat ominous start for Stanford, which is playing at home throughout October. The Cardinal scored on its first drive thanks to a 20-yard kick by senior Jet Toner. But Washington (4-2, 2-1) went ahead by a 7-3 score when junior quarterback Jacob Eason threw to wide-open sophomore tight end Cade Otton for a three-yard touchdown to cap the Huskies’ first possession. It was reminiscent of the Oregon contest, which saw the Ducks take a 7-3 lead after their first possession.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 2-3 Stanford

October 1, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 1, 2019

Saturday evening’s Stanford–Oregon State game was televised on the Pac-12 Network, which is hard to obtain locally, I resolved to listen to the game at home. (Thank you, KZSU community radio Internet feed!) I spent much of the time scanning health-care documents from 2010.

• The Bad

Football teams are supposed to play hard for 60 minutes. But the Cardinal defense hasn’t quite been able to do that.

The unit’s best outing came on Sept. 21 when they held Oregon to 21 points. Through September, the Ducks are the 19th-most prolific scoring offense in the nation (tied with Utah State at 38.5 points per game); only Washington State (44.8 ppg, good for eighth nationally) is scoring more in the Pac-12. Unfortunately, the Cardinal offense was sleep-walking through that contest and only managed six points against the U of O, so that ended in a loss.

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Inconsistent Stanford squanders a big lead but slips past Oregon State with a 31-28 win

September 30, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 30, 2019

Junior quarterback Davis Mills threw for three touchdowns and caught another as the Stanford football team survived Oregon State’s fourth-quarter rally to claim a 31-28 victory on a damp, cool Saturday evening in Corvallis.

Senior Jet Toner hit a 39-yard field goal with a second remaining to win in regulation after the Cardinal (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12) squandered a 21-point second-half lead and a two-touchdown advantage with 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. The kick spared Stanford some of the embarrassment of explaining away a late collapse by the defense, which let the Beavers (1-3, 0-1) score touchdowns on their final four drives.

Sophomore wideout Michael Wilson had three receptions for 87 yards and a score, while junior tight end Colby Parkinson (three catches, 44 yards) both caught and threw a touchdown for the Cardinal. His partner on those scoring plays was Mills (18 for 25 for a career-high 245 yards); he started in place of K.J. Costello, who injured his throwing hand against Oregon. Stanford also got another workmanlike effort from redshirt senior running back Cameron Scarlett (24 carries, 92 yards).

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-3 Stanford

September 25, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 25, 2019

This week, I have no blisters or stories to share; there was just a visit to a sports bar to see yet another desultory Stanford loss.

• The Bad

We are yet again spoiled for choice in this category. On a macro level, the Cardinal’s pass defense was atrocious; the offense was held to 234 yards and six points while converting only five of 16 third downs; and the special teams unit returned only two punts for a paltry nine yards while being pinned inside their own 15-yard line all of five times.

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Punchless Cardinal falls at home to Oregon, 21-6

September 24, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 24, 2019

A fierce defensive effort came to nought Saturday evening as the Stanford football team fell at home to Oregon, 21-6, giving the Cardinal its first three-game losing winning streak under head coach David Shaw.

After surrendering back-to-back 45-point games, the Cardinal defense held the prolific Ducks offense to just three touchdowns while receiving virtually zero scoring or special-teams support. While Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert was magnificent, completing 19 of 24 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, the Stanford defense recorded four sacks and seven tackles-for-loss in limiting the Ducks to 61 yards on 31 carries.

Stanford (1-3, 0-2 Pac-12) drove 61 yards on 12 plays on its opening drive but had to settle for a 32-yard Jet Toner field goal after gaining first down at the Ducks 17-yard line.

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Cardinal considerations: Can Stanford recover from its two-game losing streak?

September 21, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 21, 2019

Since David Shaw was became Stanford’s head football coach prior to the 2011 season, the Cardinal has had a swell run. Over Shaw’s eight-plus seasons, the team has extended its bowl streak to a school-best 10 years, which currently leads the conference. Shaw boasts an 83-28 record, which translates to a winning percentage of 74.8. The former Cardinal wide receiver has been named the Pac-12 coach of the year four times, more than any other over the 44-year history of the award.

Half of Shaw’s 28 defeats have occurred as part of consecutive losses. Never to this point has a Shaw-coached team sustained more than two losses in a row. I’ve assembled the following table of the seven losing streaks, which you’ll probably have to click on to read:

Stanford football losing streaks under David Shaw, 2014 onward

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-2 Stanford

September 17, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2019

Saturday was the first time I caught a Stanford football game in person since the Cardinal traveled to Boulder in 2015. It was the team’s first trip to the East Coast since their 2013 visit to West Point.

For a hot minute, it seemed as though the contest in Orlando might be staged in the fringes of the tropical storm that subsequently evolved into Humberto. The system’s track shifted to the east; still, for a short time Saturday morning it rained fiercely, and a strong threat of precipitation was forecast for the late afternoon as recently as a few hours before kickoff.

I’d brought just one pair of shoes on my trip to Florida, and I didn’t want them to get deluged during my spectating. I purchased some Teva boat shoes the day before the game and donned them after parking on campus. Five minutes into my trek to the stadium, I had a blister on the back of my left foot. I tried adjusting the straps, to no effect. I walked barefoot for a short distance, but the campus grass felt coarse and unpleasant beneath my feet.

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UCF embarrasses hapless Cardinal football squad in a 45-27 thrashing

September 15, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 15, 2019

Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel went 22 for 30 with 347 yards, four touchdowns and no picks to lead UCF to a 45-27 rout of Stanford in Orlando on Saturday.

A week after USC went down by two touchdowns early before going on to win by 25, Central Florida scored three touchdowns in the game’s first nine minutes and was never in any serious danger. The Knights only had seven points in the second half, but that touchdown slammed the door on what were Stanford’s already slim comeback chances.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-1 Stanford

September 10, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 10, 2019

I returned to Tobacco Road on Saturday evening to view the Stanford football team’s debacle at USC. Suffice to say that the results were quite different from the previous week’s.

• The Bad

As you might imagine after a 25-point loss, there are plenty of candidates for this week’s The Bad. For instance, the Stanford secondary, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. For another instance, the Stanford defensive front, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. And for a third instance, the Stanford defensive coaches, who allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

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Trojans come back from a two-touchdown deficit to stomp Stanford, 45-20

September 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 9, 2019

USC scored five unanswered touchdowns in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to humiliate Stanford in the Pac-12 conference debut for both teams Saturday night.

The Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) took a 17-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter before suffering an epic collapse. Stanford’s backup signal caller, junior Davis Mills, turned in an adequate performance with 237 yards, a score and a pick while competing 22 of 36 throws. His favorite targets were a pair of juniors, tight end Colby Parkinson (seven catches, 89 yards) and wideout Conor Wedington (five catches for 67 yards). Redshirt senior Cameron Scarlett gained 82 yards on 17 rushes.

But USC’s freshman quarterback was the undisputed star of the game. Kedon Slovis was magnificent in his first collegiate start, racking up 377 yards, three touchdowns and no picks on 28 of 33 passing. Vavae Malepeai led the way for the Trojans on the ground with 42 yards and two scores, while Stephen Carr had 33 yards and a touchdown.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-0 Stanford

September 3, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 3, 2019

I watched the season opener at Tobacco Road with my local Stanford sports buddy. The joint was hopping — a bunch of interesting college football games started at 3:30, about half an hour before the Cardinal kicked off against Northwestern, and the restaurant was doing a booming pregame business with Durham Bulls fans dining before a 6:30 first pitch on the final weekend of regular season play in the International League.

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Stanford football offers mixed indications in 17-7 season-opening win

September 2, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 2, 2019

Stanford opened the 2019 college football season with a 17-7 victory over Northwestern that was not nearly as comfortable as the final score might suggest.

The Wildcats, who won the Big 10 West and beat Utah in a bowl game to finish 2018 with a 9-5 record, had the ball with the potential to tie or take the lead with 30 seconds to play when the Cardinal defense asserted its will. Redshirt senior outside linebacker Casey Toohill chased down quarterback Hunter Johnson and stripped the ball from behind. The pigskin bounded into the end zone and squirted out of the arms of a few players before being recovered by senior outside linebacker Jordan Fox for the game-sealing touchdown.

Stanford may ultimately consider this contest with a dismal air, despite being 1-0 on the young season. Quarterback K.J. Costello retired to the locker room near the end of the first half after junior defensive end Earnest Brown IV knocked off the Cardinal senior’s helmet as he was sliding to the turf at the end of an otherwise meaningless four-yard scramble. And late in the third quarter, junior tackle Walker Little left the field after apparently twisting one of his legs. If either player loses significant time in 2019, then the squad’s prospects will dim considerably.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 9-4 Stanford

January 12, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 12, 2019

I viewed the 2018 Sun Bowl at a Stanford alumni watch party in Lower Manhattan. Afterward, I played for a few hours at Modern Pinball NYC.

• The Bad

Yikes, yikes, yikes — Stanford’s offense struggled against Pitt, and mightily. In my game writeup, I detailed the unit’s futility: The lowest points, passing completions, aerial yardage, overall yardage and third-down conversions for the season.

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Stanford sends out 2018 with cringe-inducing 14-13 victory over Pitt in the Sun Bowl

January 11, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 11, 2019

The Stanford football team closed out its 2018 season with an ugly 14-13 New Year’s Eve victory over Pitt in the Sun Bowl.

It was the Cardinal’s closest contest of the season, with the team putting up its lowest point total of the year after a 17-3 win over USC. Junior quarterback K.J. Costello completed just six of 17 passes for 105 yards, and the offense gained just 208 yards while converting a single third down on 10 opportunities — all season lows. It seemed fitting that the winning touchdown came on an offensive fumble recovery.

Granted, Costello’s unit was missing a number of starters, including hobbled wonderback Bryce Love, who (wisely) opted out out of the game in order to prepare for the NFL draft. But the defense was also missing players, and it turned in a commendable performance. The Panthers offense rolled up a modest 348 yards, making only five of 17 first downs, and managed just one touchdown in three visits to the red zone.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 8-4 Stanford

December 5, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 5, 2018

As has been the case a number of times in recent years, last weekend I attended the Big Game watch party that was jointly hosted by the local Stanford and Cal alumni groups. This time it was held at Woody’s, a sports bar in Cary that I’d never been to before.

Typically, the hosts hold drawings. This time I won a Stanford car magnet. Even better, the guy next to me won a 2013 Rose Bowl Champions hat. He got it and said, “Great, a five-year-old hat.” His wife didn’t want it; nor did the first person or two to which he offered it. I happily took it, having attended the game, which I fondly remember! I barely removed it from my head the rest of the day.

• The Bad

Oh, Stanford’s defense. The Cardinal allowed Cal to roll up 155 rushing yards and 197 passing yards. The Golden Bears also converted a semi-respectable seven of 18 third downs and a relatively dismal three of three fourth downs. Stanford managed but a single quarterback hurry and only recorded four tackles-for-loss, three of which were sacks.

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Number nine: Cardinal extends Big Game streak with 23-13 victory in Berkeley

December 4, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 4, 2018

Stanford extended its historic Big Game victory streak to nine games on Saturday, beating Cal, 23-13, behind a pair of Cameron Scarlett touchdowns and two Paulson Adebo interceptions.

The Cardinal, who on Sunday accepted a Sun Bowl invitation to play Pitt on Dec. 31, finished the regular season 8-4 (6-3 in the Pac-12). Cal dropped to 7-5 (5-4) but demonstrated that they have taken significant strides in closing the talent gap that’s loomed between them and their archrival for much of the past decade.

Patrick Laird gained 116 yards on 19 carries and the Bears outrushed Stanford, 155 yards to 92. But the Cardinal, which controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes, scored 10 points on three takeaways to maintain its hold on the Axe, the trophy that the two universities have contested for more than a century.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 7-4 Stanford

November 27, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 27, 2018

I watched the Cardinal take on UCLA last Saturday by myself at James Joyce Pub. The game was well in hand except, um, for all the times that it wasn’t.

• The Bad

Stanford’s second-half defense against the Bruins left something to be desired. UCLA piled up 336 yards in the final two quarters, including 311 yards through the air.

Wilton Speight, the UCLA graduate transfer who played 21 games under center for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, shattered career highs with 29 completions in 47 attempts for 466 yards. The Richmond, Va., had never registered more than 26 successful passes, his previous high number of attempts was 38, and his next-highest yardage total was 362. (Rather astonishingly, this was only the third time Speight threw for more than 300 yards over a 28-game collegiate career.)

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Stanford wins wacky shootout in Pasadena, 49-42, despite a wild late rally by UCLA

November 26, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 26, 2018

K.J. Costello threw for five touchdowns, three to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, to lead a battered Stanford football team past a feisty UCLA squad in the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

The 49-42 win moved the Cardinal to 7-4 overall and 5-3 in league ahead of their rescheduled contest at Cal on Dec. 1. The Bruins finished 3-9 (3-6) in their first season under head coach Chip Kelly.

Stanford opened with another characteristically bad first possession, which saw the team lose a yard on three snaps. After Costello threw an unwise pass that Adarius Pickett returned for 22 yards to the Cardinal 23-yard line, Kelly sent out freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback to run a trick play. He tossed the ball to Wilton Speight, the redshirt senior starting quarterback, but his pass fell incomplete. The Bruins were only able to gain two yards before sending out junior kicker J.J. Molson to hit a 38-yard field goal.

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