Photo credit: gostanford.com
By Ana Kieu
David Shaw showed the masses he still has a few tricks up his sleeve Saturday night at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.
Clinging to a seven-point lead against Oregon State early in the fourth quarter, Stanford had first and goal at the 8-yard line. Shaw called a reverse with junior quarterback Davis Mills pitching left to fifth-year senior running back Cameron Scarlett, who handed to junior tight end Colby Parkinson, who lofted a pass in the end zone for Mills. The latter used every inch of his 6’4″ frame to out-leap two Oregon State defenders for a touchdown.
“Colby put a little too much air under it,” said Shaw. “We knew our quarterback was going to be wide open. Davis is a great athlete and he hung up there and made a great play.”
Mills loved the call, now known as the Stanford Special.
“It was fun,” Mills said. “It was our version of the Philly Special.”
Parkinson also caught a touchdown pass from Mills, becoming the first non-quarterback at Stanford since Christian McCaffrey in the 2015 Pac-12 Championship Game to throw for and score a touchdown.
“I was very excited and very nervous,” Parkinson said.
As it turned out, Stanford needed one more score to win. Senior kicker Jet Toner grooved a 39-yard field goal with one second remaining to lift the Cardinal to a 31-28 victory.
“He’s got that cool Hawaiian breeze going through his blood,” Shaw said of Toner, a Honolulu product.
Stanford (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12) snapped out of its offensive funk by scoring four touchdowns against the Beavers (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12), who have lost 10 consecutive conference games. Making his second start of the season in place of injured K.J. Costello, Mills passed for three scores and caught another.
“He was calm and collected under pressure,” said Shaw. “He stood in the pocket, made some huge plays with his legs and made some really smart decisions.”
Operating behind the fourth different starting offensive line in five games, Mills threw for a career-high 245 yards.
“Not much,” said Shaw, when asked how much he revised the game plan. “Davis gets outside the pocket a little more. We protected well and guys made plays.”
Mills accompanied the team to Corvallis as a freshman, which helped prepare him for the loud and challenging environment. He didn’t flinch in the final drive.
“I have a lot of trust in the guys,” Mills said.
Shaw has been waiting for his wide receivers to step up and they did. Junior Connor Wedington caught five passes for 31 yards, junior Osiris St. Brown caught 4-for-46, sophomore Michael Wilson caught 3-for-87, sophomore Simi Fehoko caught 1-for-16, and Parkinson grabbed 3-for-44. More importantly, they contributed several big gains, going for 39, 36 and 18 yards.
Wedington helped set up Toner’s game-winner with a 43-yard kickoff return in the final two minutes after OSU had tied the score. Senior cornerback Obi Eboh blocked a field goal, Wilson contributed a 27-yard punt return, and freshman punter Ryan Sanborn averaged 50.3 yards on three punts, lacing a career-best 68-yarder and downed two inside the 20.
“We were stellar,” Shaw said.
Stanford ranks first in the Pac-12 in kickoff coverage.
In just his second start, freshman Jonathan McGill collected a game-high 11 tackles at nickel-back and was all over the field. Sophomore defensive end Thomas Booker had his first two-sack game and finished with a career-best eight tackles, and senior inside linebacker Curtis Robinson added a career-best seven stops.
The Cardinal posted four sacks and six tackles for loss.
Booker had rave reviews for McGill, cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly and the other freshmen who have stepped up on defense.
“Seeing them come in with the poise they have is awesome,” Booker said.
Stanford welcomes No. 15 Washington (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the first of three straight home games.
The host Huskies defeated No. 21 USC (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) on Saturday, 28-14. Salvon Ahmed ran for a career-high 153 yards for Washington, which has outscored opponents 77-3 in the first quarter.
The Huskies won last year’s meeting at Husky Stadium, 27-23. However, the Cardinal has claimed four of the last six and eight of the last 11.
The Pac-12 Network will broadcast the Pregame Show on campus Saturday.
Stanford football student-athletes and coaches will be sporting pink to draw awareness to breast cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer survivors will be honored throughout the game. Additionally, the 2019 NCAA champion women’s water polo team will be recognized for capturing their seventh NCAA title.
Freshman Barrett Miller started at offensive left guard alongside freshman tackle Walter Rouse … Miller became the 13th first-time starter and fifth true freshman to start for Stanford this season … As he has all season, Scarlett ran hard and tallied a team-high 92 tough yards on 24 carries. “He’s our MVP,” said Shaw … Sophomore wide receiver Brycen Tremayne, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship during fall camp, caught his first collegiate touchdown … The Stanford defense hasn’t allowed a first-quarter touchdown in six of the last eight games … The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes due to lightning in the area … Chris Peatross ’88, a four-year wide receiver at Stanford, served as honorary captain. He is the founder, president and CEO of Swift Real Estate Partners.
“What it really showed was our grit and character. We’re excited about going forward.” — Colby Parkinson