Photo credit: @StanfordFball
By Jeremy Harness
STANFORD, Calif. – It’s a good thing that the scoreboard doesn’t have pictures or game film.
The quality of play left a lot to be desired from both teams. Saturday morning’s game at Stanford Stadium featured shanked punts, botched fake punts, scratch-your-head interceptions, late hits that were not called, and just overall bad football.
However, the Stanford Cardinal pushed through all of that to get their third straight win to start the season and keep its No. 9 national ranking intact with a (30-3) win over UC Davis. What was much more deceiving than the score was the official attendance on Saturday, which was announced as 31,772. Looking into the stands, which were more than half empty, a four-digit number would have been much more accurate.
Getting past all of that, one thing is abundantly clear going forward: Stanford will have to play a lot better if they are going to beat a much-improved Oregon team, which will be waiting for the Cardinal upon their arrival in Eugene next Saturday.
Quarterback K.J Costello overcame a horrific start to lead the Cardinal to victory. He completed 17 of his 30 throws for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He was visibly off target in the early going, as he also threw two interceptions, both coming in the first quarter. Although he completed his first pass of the game for a first down, that momentum quickly fizzled, and the Cardinal’s opening drive resulted in a punt.
Stanford’s second possession ended up abruptly when Costello’s pass over the middle was intercepted, giving UC Davis the ball on Stanford’s 12-yard line. The Aggies converted that into a field goal to give them an early 3-0 lead.
Stanford averted disaster on its third drive when Costello appeared to have thrown an inadvertent backward pass and was ruled a live ball, which linebacker Nas Anesi scooped up and jaunted into the end zone untouched to give the Aggies a shocking 9-0 lead.
That play was reviewed, and it was then determined that the ball was thrown forward, therefore an incomplete pass, and the touchdown was taken off the board.
That good fortune vanished into the wind on the very next play, however, as Costello sailed another pass over the middle and had it picked off by sophomore defensive back Isaiah Thomas (not to be confused with the point guard for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets).
The defense held up remarkably well during that stretch, and the offense eventually got itself together in the second quarter. That’s when the Cardinal drove deep into UC Davis territory and took the lead, as J.J Arcega-Whiteside posted up cornerback Vincent White in the end zone, giving Costello a relatively easy 9-yard touchdown pass.
Late in the quarter, Stanford got into the red zone and Arcega-Whiteside got position in the end zone again, this time on cornerback Jordan Perryman. Costello found him once more, and the 8-yard score capped off a seven-play, 62-yard drive and gave the Cardinal a 17-3 lead, which stood at halftime.
A botched fake punt gave the Cardinal the ball on the Aggies’ 19-yard line for its first possession of the second half. After a three-and-out, Stanford settled for a field goal, increasing its lead to 20-3.
Following a Stanford touchdown, UC Davis had another crack at a score, pushing into the red zone. However, that hope was dashed when freshman Thomas Booker picked off a tipped pass.
That was, until UC Davis converted a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown, which was rather meaningless – college fantasy football does not exist, folks – but it changed the overall score nonetheless.
The No. 9 Cardinal head to Autzen Stadium next Saturday, September 22 to take on the No. 20 Oregon Ducks at 5:00 pm PDT on ABC.