Widgets Magazine

Instant recap: Love and defense finally break Utah

Junior running back Bryce Love and the Stanford defense helped the Cardinal (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) grind out a 23-20 victory over No. 20 Utah (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Stanford had not beaten Utah in the David Shaw era with losses in 2013 at Utah and 2014 at home. The Cardinal are now 4-4 all-time against the Utes.

Love took a 68-yard carry for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Stanford a 23-13 lead in a game where points were hard to come by. He finished the game with 152 rushing yards on 20 carries.

He now has eight straight games with a 50+ yard touchdown dating back to last season.

The Stanford defense came to play with two interceptions, allowing only 5.9 yards per pass attempt, causing two sacks and pressuring Utah quarterback Troy Williams constantly.

However, coming into the game, the quarterback situation was the biggest concern looming over Stanford.

Coach Shaw started senior Keller Chryst over sophomore K.J. Costello which was controversial due to Costello’s solid play against UCLA and Arizona State. But both played in the game and neither separated themselves with their play.

Stanford started the game fast as Chryst hit sophomore tight end Kaden Smith for a 54-yard gain. The offense couldn’t use it to score a touchdown but sophomore kicker Jet Toner put Stanford up 3-0 with a 21-yard field goal.

Curiously, the offense went for it on fourth down on that same possession and appeared to score but head coach David Shaw called a timeout right before the snap. Shaw changed his mind after the timeout, leading to the Toner field goal.

After a punt on Stanford’s next offensive possession, Costello was inserted into the game but couldn’t help the offense score as his two drives were a three-and-out and a 57-yard drive which ended in a missed field goal.

The defense wasn’t able to contain the Utes for too long in the game as Utah scored on running back Zack Moss’ 2-yard touchdown run.

The score put the Utes up with a 3-7 lead over the Cardinal in the middle of the first quarter.

Chryst came back under center after Costello’s two possessions and engineered a five play, 71-yard touchdown drive which featured a 39-yard run for Bryce Love and capped off with an end zone run by Chryst.

The touchdown put Stanford up 10-7 with 9:35 left in the second quarter.

The Cardinal and the Utes would go on to trade a series of field goals to give Stanford a 13-10 lead heading into the second half.

The Stanford defense came on strong in the second half, causing a turnover-on-downs on Utah’s first possession which resulted in a Stanford field goal.

The Cardinal ended the third quarter up 16-13, but the fireworks were reserved for the fourth quarter when Love scored his 68-yard touchdown run.

Fifth-year defensive end Eric Cotton put pressure on Utah’s Williams after the Love score which forced Williams to throw up an errant pass and it was intercepted by junior cornerback Quenton Meeks.

After a Stanford punt, Williams’s first pass was again intercepted but this time by safety Justin Reid. It gave him five interceptions on the season which ties for first in the nation.

Two targeting calls on fifth-year senior Peter Kalambayi and senior defensive tackle Harrison Phillips kept the Utes’ drive alive which ended with a touchdown to cut Stanford’s lead over Utah to 23-20 with 44 seconds left in the game.

Stanford held onto the onside kick and used the victory formation to give the Cardinal the win over Utah.

Stanford had 384 yards of total offense which was just two more over Utah’s offensive production. The Cardinal averaged 6.3 yards per rush and 7.8 yards per pass against a Utah defense ranked 17th in college football.

Chryst ended the game 7-of-14 for 106 passing yards and a rushing touchdown while Costello had 6-of-10 for 82 yards.

Stanford returns from the high elevation of Salt Lake City to play Oregon in the homecoming game on Saturday at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on FS1.


Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.