Uploaded: Saturday, October 27, 2012, 8:43 PM
Stanford survives Pac-12 football test from Cougars
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|By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford became bowl eligible with its 24-17 victory over visiting Washington State on Saturday and that's about all that will make the 19th-ranked Cardinal football team happy on a day where its offense seemed more challenged than dominant.
Stanford (4-1, 6-2) managed 256 yards of total offense in its Pac-12 Conference victory and only 58 of those yards came from senior running back Stepfan Taylor, who has been averaging over 100 yards a contest.
"We played to 70-75 percent of our capabilities," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We did not play as well as we practiced. Our execution was lacking. In the running game, we thought we had a really good plan. We didn't execute as well as we wanted."
Josh Nunes threw for 136 yards on 7 of 15 passing and more than half of those yards came on one play: a 70-yard touchdown to Jamal-Rashad Patterson.
"We were inefficient throwing the ball," Shaw said. We had some guys who made some individual plays that were outstanding, but I think we can play so much better. and we're going to need to."
The Cardinal travels to Colorado for an early morning conference game next Saturday (11 a.m. PT on FX) and the road has been harsh for Stanford.
The Cougars (0-5, 2-6) were on the hunt for a tying touchdown when Henry Anderson sacked Washington State's Jeff Tuel on the final play of the game. It was Stanford's school record 10th sack of the game.
"The last four games Henry Anderson has been playing at a high, high level," Shaw said. "We've been challenging him since he got here and he's done that. He's athletic enough to beat guys on pass rush moves and he's done a great good against the run."
Trent Murphy and Usua Amanam each had two sacks, Ben Gardner, Anderson, Alex Debniak and Josh Mauro were each credited with 1 1/2 sacks. The Cardinal also had a season best 15 tackles for a loss.
Stanford, fourth in the NCAA against the run, limited the Cougars to a net gain of minus-16, matching the third-fewest rushing yards allowed in school history.
"Their rushing yards got better because the quarterback scrambled," Shaw said. "We lost contain three times and that's inexcusable. Jeff Tuel is a good football player, make no mistake about it. We didn't play up to our capabilities."
Tuel threw for 401 yards on 43 of 60 passing and scrambled for another 52 yards. The 10 sacks resulted in a loss of 64 yards.
"We did what we needed to do to get this win," Gardner said. "We pride ourselves on getting to the quarterback. We're going to make it tough on their offensive line to protect if you let us pin our ears back and get up the field."
It was a scary game for the Cardinal because of the low score. Jordan Williamson's 42-yard field goal was Stanford's only production in the game's first 22-plus minutes, which allowed Washington State to take a lead at 8:13 of the second quarter.
The Cardinal responded quickly, with Nunes and Patterson connecting on the long touchdown play less than a minute later. It was Stanford's longest pass play of the season.
"If they are calling us we have to make the play," Patterson said. "We don't want to let anyone down."
The Cougars kicked a field goal that ended the first half and sent the game into intermission tied at 10.
"It definitely wasn't the kind of game we wanted to play," Nunes said. "The defense did a lot of great things all night. Offensively we have to get going. We have to be more efficient."
Stanford took the second half kickoff and drove 78 yards in 13 plays to take the lead for good. Ryan Hewitt went the final yard.
Ed Reynolds put the finishing touches on the victory when he intercepted a Tuel pass and rambled 25 yards for his second interception return for a touchdown this season.
"I'm just a free guy on the call we made," Reynolds said. "I just went, stole second base, and got one. It's definitely nice."
Freshman Joshua Garnett recorded his first career start at right guard and became the first freshman offensive lineman to start for Stanford since Kirk Chambers in 2000 . . . Sophomore Kelsey Young returned the second half kickoff 22 yards, his first career return . . . Reynolds leads the NCAA with 169 interception return yards . . . Hewitt recorded his first career rushing touchdown . . . Stanford beat the Cougars for the fifth straight time . . . The Cardinal is 18-1 in its last 19 home games . . . Terrence Brown led Stanford with nine tackles.
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