Sept. 28, 2012
SEATTLE (AP) - It took almost a month, but Stanford finally felt the sting of not having Andrew Luck roaming The Farm anymore.
No one expected Washington to provide the hurt.
Kasen Williams took a quick screen pass from Keith Price, broke a tackle and the line of scrimmage and raced 35 yards for the go-ahead score with 4:53 left, and Washington rallied from 10 points down to stun No. 8 Stanford 17-13 on Thursday night.
Trailing 13-3 late in the third quarter, the Huskies (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) got a 61-yard touchdown sprint from running back Bishop Sankey for their first offensive touchdown against an FBS opponent since the first quarter of the opener against San Diego State.
Then Washington put together a nine-play drive that included another fourth-down conversion and was capped by Williams' catch-and-run that gave the Huskies their first lead.
It was Washington's first win over a top 10 ranked opponent since its upset of then-No. 3 USC back in 2009, Steve Sarkisian's first season at Washington. And it was thanks to an inspired defensive effort that was the opposite of a year ago when Stanford (3-1, 1-1) bulldozed the Huskies to the tune of 446 yards rushing and 65 points.
"We didn't play well enough to win," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We didn't make the throws we needed to make. We didn't make the catches we needed to make. We didn't sustain our blocks in the running game as long as we should have. We got outplayed tonight."
The reality of the post-Luck era at Stanford was evident against the Huskies. Stanford was held without an offensive touchdown for the first time since a 23-6 loss at Oregon State on Oct. 27, 2007 - a span of 59 games. It also snapped a streak of 11 straight wins in the month of September.
The game was put in the hands of junior quarterback Josh Nunes and he was told to make plays down the field as Stepfan Taylor was surprisingly tied up by Washington's defense. Despite good protection from the Stanford offensive line, Nunes completed just 18 of 37 passes for 170 yards with an interception.
Taylor ran for 138 yards against Washington last year and had 153 yards rushing in the upset of then-No. 2 USC on Sept. 15. He finished with 75 yards on 21 carries, none of them longer than 7 yards.
"I know that I need to make a lot of those throws that we missed tonight. I feel like I let a few of the guys down tonight," Nunes said.
Stanford's only touchdown came on Trent Murphy's athletic 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter that gave the Cardinal a 13-3 lead. Then came Washington's scoring blitz, with Sankey slipping free on the final play of the third quarter for the longest run of his career. After Stanford went three-and-out for the seventh time in the game, the Huskies went on a 65-yard drive to take the lead.
The Huskies converted on fourth-and-1 at their own 44 with Dezden Petty bulling for 2 yards and eventually got to the Stanford 35 with 5 minutes remaining. That's when Sarkisian called for the quick screen to his star receiver. Williams broke the tackle of Terrence Brown at the line of scrimmage then sprinted down the sideline ahead of safety Ed Reynolds, who caught up enough to knock the ball loose but only after Williams had crossed the goal line.
"The way we executed in the most critical moments, that's what I'm most proud of those guys for," Sarkisian said.
Nunes put together one final drive. He hit Zach Ertz twice to get into Washington territory, but the big play was a drop by Ty Montgomery at the Washington 5 when he had a clear path to the end zone. Facing fourth-down at the Washington 34 with 2 minutes left, Nunes tried to throw a fade route down the sideline to 6-foot-8 tight end Levine Toilolo. But the ball was poorly thrown and Desmond Trufant was in position to intercept the pass at the 8 with 1:46 left.
"Definitely that was a bad throw on my part," Nunes said. "We like that matchup against anyone. Trufant is a good corner and he made a good play on it but definitely that ball shouldn't have been where it was."
Stanford used its final two timeouts to force third-and-4, but Ben Gardner jumped offside giving the Huskies a first down and the chance to run out the clock.
"We didn't keep the defense off the field like we usually do," Shaw said. "We kept putting the defense out there too long. Every team in our conference, if you give them enough shots on offense, they're going to hurt you and that's what happened tonight."
It was a victory for new Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Given extra time to prepare for the Cardinal with a bye last weekend, he used every minute of it to devise a defensive scheme to slow Stanford's rushing attack.
Most notably, Wilcox regularly had eight or nine defenders near the line of scrimmage, daring Nunes to beat them through the air. Stanford went more than 21 minutes of the first half without gaining a first down and Nunes couldn't lead a winning drive in the closing seconds.
Stanford finished with just 235 yards of total offense, the fewest yards allowed by Washington since the 2010 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska.
"I think we can all do a much better job," Shaw said.