Uploaded: Saturday, September 15, 2012, 11:27 PM
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012, 9:43 AM
Taylor helps Stanford rush past USC
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|By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stepfan Taylor made all the right moves in the biggest game of the year. Maybe now he'll start to get some national attention.
Taylor rushed for 153 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown, caught fives passes for another 60 yards and a touchdown and No. 21 Stanford stunned visiting No. 2 USC, 21-14, in the Pac-12 football opener for both teams on Saturday in Stanford Stadium.
"He showed the same thing he's been doing the last two years," said Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes, who had the best game of his young career. "He's a great guy to have on the field. He's a rock. I love seeing what he's able to accomplish after contact."
Taylor's 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was more than double the Trojans' team total of 26 rushing yards.
"Coach basically told us to trust this game," Taylor said. "That's what we did. We were just going to keep chugging at it."
The failure of USC's running game could have been worse. Marquise Lee, who caught eight passes for 100 yards, was credited with an eight-yard rush after he picked up a Matt Barkley fumble.
Curtis McNeal ran for 30 yards on the final play of the first half. Take those numbers away and the Trojans had negative yardage.
"It's something special," Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov said. "We came out to play and showed we could do this."
Stanford nearly gave away too many chances in the first half, missing several scoring opportunities. A dominating second half, especially on defense, erased any concerns.
"We just stuck to the plan," Cardinal defensive end Ben Gardner said. "We had them at fourth down a few times, on some long drives and weren't able to get it done. In the second half we started to make those plays."
Stanford beat the Trojans a fourth straight time and the third consecutive time by a touchdown or less. It's Stanford's longest winning streak over USC in a rivalry that dates to 1905.
"We have talked about not being a flash in the pan," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "We don't want to be a team that is known for one victory. We want to be known for victory after victory. We want to be consistent, stacking wins on top of wins."
The Cardinal (1-0, 3-0) gets a few extra days to enjoy this one. Stanford's next game is at Washington on Thursday, Sept. 27.
Nunes threw for 215 yards on 15-of-32 passing. He had two touchdown passes, including the go-ahead 37-yard scoring toss to Zach Ertz early in the fourth quarter.
"I can not say enough about Josh Nunes," Shaw said. "He did not play a perfect game but he made some unbelievable runs, broke tackles. He made some great throws. That one to Zach Ertz was beautiful."
The Cardinal outgained USC, 238-91, in the second half and kept the Trojans off the scoreboard for the final 41:19 of the contest. Barkley was sacked four times overall and Stanford recorded nine tackles for a loss.
Taylor, ranks third on Stanford's all-time rushing list with 3,108 yards, gained 45 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
"We were going to keep giving him the ball," Shaw said. "He never gets tired, he drags people, he breaks tackles. When we need him, we are going to put a saddle on him and ride him."
Notes: The Cardinal also beat No. 2 USC in 2007, in the game that defined the career of ==QB Tavita Pritchard, ==currently a defensive assistant for Stanford . . . The Cardinal's last home win against a No. 2 team was against Washington in 1982 . . . Matt Barkley did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Nov. 20, 2010 against Oregon State . . . Stanford has a 3-0 record for the third straight year for the first time since 1970-72 . . . The Cardinal has held its last six opponents to under 100 yards rushing.
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