Nov. 30, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - With UCLA's offense driving down the field early in the second quarter, approaching the red zone for a third drive in a row, Stanford junior FS Ed Reynolds did what he's done all season - he read the quarterback's eyes, got a great jump on the ball and intercepted the pass at Stanford's 19-yard line. It was his sixth interception of the year, which leads the Pac-12 and ties him for fifth in the FBS.
"I tried to get a touchdown but obviously wasn't really successful," said Reynolds following the game.
Instead, Reynolds ran the ball back 80 yards before finally being brought down at the one-yard line.
"I thought he was in," said Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw.
That one yard kept Reynolds from tying two NCAA records: the most interception return touchdowns and the most interception return yards. Reynolds now has 301 interception return yards this season, which just trails the 302 of USC's Charles Phillips in 1974.
"I didn't even know the record," said Reynolds. "I heard I was close to the record for interception returns for touchdowns, but statistically it doesn't even matter. I just want to go out there and contribute to this team as best as I can. That's all I can ask of myself."
His contribution provided the shift in momentum Stanford needed. On the following play, senior RB Stepfan Taylor ran the ball in to tie the game at 14. Stanford's defense then went on to force three-and-outs on the Bruins' next two possessions and take a 17-14 lead into halftime. Prior to the interception the defense hadn't been able to stop UCLA's offense in the game.
"It was a game-changer," said Shaw. "You know, take points off the board for them and put points on the board for us. When you have a game-changing play like that, you have a good chance to win because when the rest of the game is even, that play is the one that will tip it in your favor."
Reynolds will get one more shot at the NCAA records in Pasadena, but he insists he won't be thinking about it.
"Every guy on this team never thinks of personal accolades. It's always 'what I can do to help this team.' If I do get it, great. If not, as long as we win the Rose Bowl, that's the biggest thing."
Stanford senior RB Stepfan Taylor became the Cardinal's all-time leading rusher during the closing moments of the second quarter. Taylor had 78 yards in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game to bring his career total to 4,212 rushing yards and eclipse Darrin Nelson's record (4,169, 1977-81).
"It was a great year for football," said Taylor. "We had some highs and lows, but we were able to reach all of our accomplishments and goals. It shows a lot about our team and coaches."
Junior K Jordan Williamson hit both of his field goal attempts, both pushing Stafnord into the lead. His 37-yard shot on the final play of the first half sent the Cardinal into the locker room with a 17-14 advantage and momentum. Williamson put Stanford ahead for good on a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter. He entered the game converting 56.5 percent of his field goals (13 of 23).
"He's come a long way, and we expect him to come a lot farther," said Shaw.
This is the fourth time Stanford has worn black uniforms, all at Stanford Stadium. The Cardinal had previously worn black on black against Duke (2012), UCLA (2011) and Wake Forest (2010). Stanford is 4-0 in the black uniforms and has scored touchdowns in 15 of 16 quarters - the exception being the third quarter tonight.
Sophomore Ben Rhyne made his first career start as the Cardinal punter. Rhyne had six punts for an average of 42.2 yards/punt.
Stanford's game captains tonight were fifth-year senior C Sam Schwartzstein, fifth-year senior OLB Chase Thomas, Senior RB Stepfan Taylor, and fifth-year senior OLB Alex Debniak. The Cardinal's Honorary Captaion was Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame DE Chuck Evans.
Following the game, Stanford's students rushed the field - taking photos and holding roses. The Cardinal last earned earned their way into the Rose Bowl 13 years ago (1999 season, 2000 Rose Bowl).
- Jessica Swain