By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Ty Montgomery introduced himself to the college football world by running a play he had never practiced two years ago in a stunning victory over USC.
These days Montgomery is just being himself, and that's been too much for Cardinal opponents.
"I'm not trying to think as an individual right now," he said. " I'm just really happy that we pulled out a win. We were in a fight and down to the last minute. We showed that we can stand in there and we can finish a game."
Montgomery did a lot of running around Saturday night to help fifth-ranked Stanford hold off a serious challenge from visiting No. 15 Washington, 31-28, in an impressive Pac-12 Conference contest in Stanford Stadium.
"He's a better player now than he was a year ago. He's gotten better every single week," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He's so fast. He's so explosive, and he's a great kid. The challenge for him though is to continue to get better because he can."
Montgomery ran for 30 yards, caught three passes for 56 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown reception, and returned four kicks for another 204 yards, including a 99-yard kickoff return to open the game.
Not only did Montgomery score twice, his returns helped set up a couple of other Cardinal touchdowns.
"I would say Ty was the difference in the ballgame," Shaw said. "Just his presence, great reverse also. The two great kickoff returns, great job blocking, great job being unselfish and doing whatever we needed him to do. He's a special player."
The Huskies run their up-tempo more like Oregon than Washington State. Keith Price showed he's one of the top quarterbacks in a conference full of top quarterbacks. He very nearly out did Kevin Hogan by breathing life into plays that were all but left for dead.
"We've been extremely good all year on third down, and they really took it to us on third downs," Shaw said. Keith Price . . . Athletic, smart, great kid, tough competitor. We probably should have had four to five more sacks tonight, but we couldn't bring him down. He's that good."
The Huskies get another chance for a major upset when they host No. 2 Oregon this weekend in what should be one of the most spectacular high-octane games of the season.
The Cardinal (3-0 in the Pac-12, 5-0 overall) hopes to pull a few things together when it travels to Salt Lake City to take on Utah. The Utes gave UCLA everything it could handle on Thursday, losing by a touchdown.
"This is a team that plays great at home," Shaw said of Utah. "It's going to feel like a short week with the travel. They play extremely well there, and everyone said UCLA was going to go in there and blow them out, and that was a tough one. Utah turned the ball over a ton. If they didn't, that game would have been a lot closer, and it might have even gone the other way. "
On a fourth-and-10 in the final two minutes, Price rolled to his right, fought off a pass rusher and threw a 16-yard pass near the sideline to a diving Kevin Smith. But after reviewing TV replays, officials ruled the ball hit the ground, ending the Huskies' hopes for the upset.
The Stanford defense also did its part. Price was sacked five times and forced to throw it away on several other occasions, an important feat considering the Huskies are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
In his first action late in the USC game, Montgomery was on the receiving end of a flea-flicker pass from Andrew Luck that went for 62 yards late in the third quarter. It set up a touchdown that gave Stanford a 24-20 edge.
He performed the hook-and-ladder with Luck and Jeremy Stewart to perfection in the first overtime, even though he had never practiced the play. He said he knew what to do by watching Chris Owusu in practice.