WEST POINT, N.Y. - Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery registered career days, Kevin Hogan threw three touchdown passes and No. 5/4 Stanford shook off some rust out of the gates to defeat Army, 34-20, in front of 39,644 fans at Michie Stadium. The Cardinal improve to 2-0, setting up an early-season showdown with Arizona State in a game that stands to have a large say in the Pac-12 title race.
In his second game back from a year-long hiatus to play professional baseball, Gaffney rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 20 carries. The San Diego product scored the last two Stanford touchdowns - one a 23-yard reception, the other a goal-line plunge - to put the game on ice.
“I think we showed that fight that we needed to show,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “What I loved about our team is that we didn’t start to have that frustration. We showed that we’re not worried about outside people; we’re only concerned about ourselves.”
Montgomery also etched a new career high in receiving yardage, surpassing his 2012 Fiesta Bowl performance with 130 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. The explosive wide receiver again displayed his improved strength, spinning out of and breaking numerous tackles for the second straight week. He also carried the ball twice for 30 yards.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Cardinal, which turned it over on its first possession of the day. Hogan fumbled on third down in Stanford territory, giving the Black Knights a short field. The Stanford defense did not concede a first down, but Daniel Grochowski knuckled a 39-yard field goal through the uprights to put Army ahead 3-0 as a result of the great field position.
The Black Knights tacked on three more after forcing a Stanford three-and-out and driving 38 yards down the field on 12 plays to set up a 48-yard field goal for Grochowski, a new career best.
That’s when the Cardinal attack finally woke up. A heavy dose of Gaffney on the next Stanford possession set up a 1st and 10 from the Army 26. Michael Rector slithered behind the defense on a corner route to the end zone and hauled in the Hogan offering after cornerback Josh Jenkins tipped it into his lap. Rector’s first career reception and Jordan Williamson’s ensuing extra point gave the Cardinal the lead for good, though Army was not about to bow down to Stanford.
A 46-yard touchdown pass from Hogan to Montgomery on a double move and a Williamson 31-yard field goal gave Stanford a 17-6 cushion, but Army fought back with a 75-yard drive that showed just how effective its triple-option offense can be. Leading the nation in rushing the last two years, the Black Knights had success with outside runs before Larry Dixon gashed the heart of the Stanford defense to the tune of a 15-yard touchdown rush to bring his side within four just before halftime.
The 69 seconds left on the clock were enough for Hogan to drive the Cardinal attack into Williamson’s range, buoyed by a 22-yard hook-up with Montgomery. Williamson drilled the 47-yarder – one off his career long – to send Stanford into the locker room up 20-13.
Army had a couple of chances to tie things up in the second half, but James Vaughters pounced on an Angel Santiago fumble to give Stanford the ball near midfield with 7:36 to go in the third. Not only did the fumble recovery by Chase Thomas’ replacement extend Stanford’s FBS-leading streak of consecutive games of forcing a turnover to 26, but it set up the drive that would put this nonconference clash between esteemed institutions out of reach.
Either Gaffney or Montgomery touched the ball on the last seven plays of Stanford’s next eight-play drive that culminated in a 23-yard paydirt pitch-and-catch from Hogan to an open Gaffney leaking out of the backfield with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Gaffney’s next touchdown – a one-yard run up the middle with 9:59 to go in the fourth – gave Stanford the exact advantage it held over San Jose State after 60 minutes the previous week, but a 6-yard touchdown pass from Army quarterback A.J. Schurr to Edgar Poe with 17 ticks on the clock made sure Stanford would not win by the same score.
“Everybody says you’re supposed to win this game by a lot of points and you go into halftime and it’s close; we didn’t show that frustration,” Shaw said. “We just knew we had to play our game, be smart, play together and play hard, and it’s going to work out for us.”
Hogan completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 188 yards and three touchdowns against one pick. The three touchdown passes tie a career-high he set in his first collegiate start - against Oregon State last November.
Army gained 284 yards on the ground, 74 yards fewer than they gained on average in over the last two seasons in which they topped the nation. However, the Black Knights did gain 4.7 yards per carry, significantly more than the 3.0 Stanford had allowed on the ground over the same period of time.
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