Sports


Stanford hits it big in the second half

 

Andrew Luck threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, Stepfan Taylor rushed for 153 yards and Jordan Williamson kicked three field goals as the Stanford football team beat host Arizona, 37-10, Saturday night in the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams.

The fifth-ranked Cardinal (3-0) overcame injuries to key performers Coby Fleener, Shayne Skov and Chris Owusu to win its 11th straight, currently the longest active winning streak among FBS teams.

Stanford heads into its bye week a little banged up and uncertain about the status of Skov, the inspirational leader of the defense. Fleener remained out of the contest for precautionary reasons more than anything and Owusu returned to action, briefly, in the second half.

David Shaw became the first coach to win his first three games at Stanford since Jack Christiansen did it 1972.

Luck passed Stanford's lone Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett with his 52nd and 53rd career touchdown pass and ranks third, behind only John Elway (77) and Steve Stenstrom (72), on the school's all-time list.

Taylor established a career-high for rushing yards and recorded his eighth career 100-yard rushing game. Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart also scored on the ground.

The Cardinal has won eight of the past 11 games in the series with Arizona following a six-game losing streak. The 10 points matched the second-fewest allowed the Wildcats by Stanford in the series that dates to 1979, Arizona's first year in the Pac-10.

It was also the second-largest margin of victory in the series, behind only a 50-22 win in 1999.

Stanford also netted points in all four trips into the red zone and have come away with points in all 16 trips this season. The Cardinal has scored in 78 of its last 86 trips into the red zone, a .907 success rate.

After averaging 173 yards on the ground through its first two games, the Cardinal broke loose for 242 yards against the Wildcats, led by Taylor, who has established himself as one of the top runners in school history.

He more than doubled his season total to 289 yards, a 96.3 yards per game average. Taylor is on pace to gain 1,156 yards through the regular season, which would make him just the third back at Stanford, joining Darrin Nelson and Toby Gerhart, to rush for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons.

"We started off very slow, but came in toward the second half," Taylor said. "Those big plays helped us out a lot."

Stanford struggled to find the end zone in the first half, settling for Williamson's field goals of 20, 45 and 33 yards. The second half was a completely different chapter.

Luck was 20-of-31 passing, throwing touchdown passes of 16 yards to Zach Ertz in the third quarter and 34 yards to Levine Toilolo, who led everybody with 102 receiving yards, in the fourth. It all added up to 567 yards of total offense.

"We challenged our guys to take the fight to them, challenged our guys to be physical and see if we can wear them out," Shaw said. "That's our philosophy we believe in: our second half has got to be better than our first half; that's what we did tonight."

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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