Cardinal defense preserves Sun Bowl win for Stanford 25-23

December 30, 2016

NCAA, Stanford Cardinal

Stanford linebacker Jordan Perez celebrates after defeating North Carolina in the Sun Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Dec., 30, 2016, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Mark Lambie)

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Friday, December 30, 2016

Even without Christian McCaffrey, No. 16 Stanford still found a way to persevere and win the 83rd Sun Bowl. It was the first time in program history that the Cardinal has won three consecutive bowl games.

McCaffrey remained back at Stanford to recover from a series of lingering injuries so he could prepare for the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, in El Paso, Texas, the Cardinal used clutch defensive play and a strong rushing attack to hold off North Carolina 25-23. Cardinal running back Bryce Love gained 115 rushing yards on 22 attempts and made a 49-yard touchdown catch.

Junior quarterback Keller Chryst, 5-0 as a Stanford starter, suffered a right knee injury late in the second quarter. He was replaced by Ryan Burns, who completed 6 of 11 passes for 86 yards. Before leaving the game, Chryst was 3 of 6 for 68 yards.

After the Tar Heels (8-5) pulled to within two on a 2-yard pass from Mitch Trubisky to Bug Howard with 25 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas sacked Trubisky on a 2-point conversion attempt.

The Cardinal (10-3) surged ahead to stay 47 seconds into the fourth quarter when Dallas Lloyd delivered a pick-six.

On the day, Lloyd had two interceptions and a forced fumble.

A 44-yard field goal by Conrad Ukropina early in the second quarter broke a 7-7 deadlock. Another Ukropina field goal, from 33 yards out, gave the Cardinal a 13-7 halftime lead.

Ukropina’s third field goal – a 43-yarder at 10:18 of the third quarter, put Stanford up 16-7. But the Tar Heels responded with a 37-yard field goal by Nick Weiler and took a 17-16 lead at 3:17 of the third on Jordan Brown’s 5-yard run.

North Carolina opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Ryan Switzer at 8:58 of the first quarter. The Cardinal answered with Love’s TD reception less than three minutes later.

T.J. Logan led UNC with 75 rushing yards on 19 carries. Trubisky added 67 yards on 14 attempts. Austin Proehl led Tar Heel receivers with 7 catches for 91 yards

The Tar Heels outgained Stanford 398 total yards to 284, and had a 25-15 advantage in first downs.

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