Stanford Cardinal running back Austin Jones (20) carries for the first score of the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on Sat Dec 20, 2020 (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
What a way to finish the season. The Cardinal won a thrilling double-overtime game over the UCLA Bruins t the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game had loads of offense and the Stanford defense came through to win the game as the Bruins were attempting a two-point conversion that would send the Cardinal down to defeat.
The Stanford Cardinal, playing their fourth game in a row on the road, beat the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl Saturday night 48-47.
The Cardinal finished the season with a record of 4-2. The Bruins fell to 3-4. The Cardinal, eligible to play in a postseason bowl game, announced that they would not accept an invitation. UCLA also declined an invitation for a bowl game.
Stanford dominated the first half. Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills had everything working for him. The Cardinal scored three times to finish the first half with a 20-3 lead. The only blemish was Jet Toner’s missed extra point on the Cardinal’s second score.
The miss turned out to be a significant factor in the game. The Cardinal’s first score was a 72 -yard drive on 12 plays. The key play was a 34-yard pass from Mills to Brycen Tremayne to put the ball on the Bruin nine-yard line. The Cardinal took the ball down to the one-yard line. Austin Jones scored on a one-yard plunge into the end zone. UCLA had a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty. They had to settle for a field goal. Stanford led 7-3.
The Cardinal scored their second touchdown on a six-play 75-yard drive. The key plays were Napoleon Peat’s 19-yard scamper and Mills’ 44-yard throw to Tremayne to take the Cardinal down to the Bruins’ two-yard line.
With the Cardinal in the Wildcat formation, Isiah Sanders took it to the house for the score. Toner missed the extra point. Stanford leads 13-3. UCLA’s quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was injured while leading the Bruins to Stanford’s 21-yard line. Chase Griffin replaced him.
The Bruin drive stalled at the eleven-yard line.UCLA’s field goal attempt failed. Stanford then went on an 80-yard drive. Mills completed five passes to get the Cardinal down to the Bruin one-yard line.
Jones ran it in for the score. Stanford dominated the first half and left the field, leading 20-3. Mills was 13-for-16, passing good for 201 yards. Jones had 11 carries for 44 yards and two touchdowns. Tremayne had four receptions for 88 yards. Fehoko had five catches for 76 yards.
The Bruins found their mojo in the second half. The Cardinal defense held the Bruin offense in check the first thirty minutes of the game. The Cardinal offense shredded the Bruins defense. However, teams have to play sixty minutes of football.
With backup QB Chase Griffin and backup running back Brittain Brown, the Bruins scored 31 unanswered points to lead 34-20 with 5:39 left. Cardinal QB Davis Mills threw three interceptions that set up the Bruin touchdowns. The Bruins scored a touchdown the first time they had their hands on the ball in the second half. They went 57 yards on seven plays for the score. There was a feeling that momentum had shifted to the Bruins.
Their next score came when Mills’ pass was picked off. Mills had thrown 222 passes without an interception. The Bruins drive stalled on the Cardinal 32-yard line. On fourth and four, Griffin connected with tight end Greg Dulcich for the score.
The Bruins picked off another Mills’ pass at the Bruin 16-yard line. Brown then ripped off a 41-yard run. Griffin connected with Chase Cota in the end zone for the score. UCLA led for the first time 24-20. UCLA continued to rip through the Cardinal defense. They were driving for another score when the Cardinal defense stiffined. The Bruins kicked a field goal to lead 27-20.
The Bruin defense put seven more points on the board when cornerback Jay Shaw intercepted Mills errant throw. He took it to the house to make it 34-20. The Bruins had scored 31 unanswered points in the second half. Time was running out for Stanford.
The Cardinal rose to the occasion. They went on a 75-yard drive to creep within seven 34-27 with 2:39 to play. The Cardinal tried an onside kick. UCLA was able to field it cleanly and ran it back to the Cardinal 27-yard line. Stanford’s defense forced a fumble, and they were back in business with just a minute and 43 seconds left to play.
Could they do it? Did they have enough left in the tank to engineer a drive that would tie the game? They answered both questions. They converted on a fourth and one to stay alive. Davis Mills connected with Fehoko on a 29-yard pass to tie the game and send it to overtime.
It took two overtime periods to end the game. UCLA scored first. Stanford responded to tied it at 41-41. In the second overtime period, Stanford went first. They put seven more points on the board. The combination of Mills to Fehoko worked again.
UCLA had to score to tie the game. They did. The Cardinal defense forced them into a fourth and 18 for a first down. The Bruins needed 21 yards for the score. Griffin found Kyle Phillips in the end zone for the TD. Bruins’ head coach Chip Kelly decided to go for two points.
If they converted, the Bruins would win. If they failed, the day belonged to Stanford. The Bruins ran the play. Stanford held. Penalty flags flew all over the field. Each team was charged with a penalty. They had to rerun the play. The Cardinal defense stopped the run on the one-yard line to seal the win for Stanford. Final score Stanford 48-UCLA 47.
Game notes and stats: Davis Mills had quite a day. He was 32 for 47, good for 428 yards. Austin Jones had 23 carries for 92 yards. Simi Fehoko had a career-high sixteen receptions for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Stanford record 560 total yards on offense. The Bruins had 483. The Bruins’ Brittain Brown rushed for 219 yards.
Both teams left everything on the field Saturday night. Had Kelly decided not to kick the extra point, the teams probably would still be on the field. It was a terrific college football game and a great way to end the season.