Stanford shuts down Oregon, holds on for win

Jake Curtis, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Stanford demonstrated again Thursday that it can do something no other team seems capable of accomplishing: stymie Oregon's explosive offense.
No. 5 Stanford shut out the high-scoring No. 3 Ducks for three quarters, then held off a late Oregon rally to record a 26-20 victory at Stanford Stadium, severely damaging Oregon's chances for a national championship.
Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) scored at least 34 points in all but two of its past 35 games, and both failures were against Stanford. The Cardinal beat the Ducks 17-14 in overtime last year, and Stanford was more dominant this time. The Cardinal controlled the game and the clock with its power running game.
"I would say this was a more complete performance," Stanford coach David Shaw said, comparing this victory to last year's win over the Ducks. "Tonight you see who we are: a big, physical team that plays extremely well together."
Stanford (8-1, 6-1) dominated the tempo. Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney gained 157 yards on a school-record 45 carries, and Stanford ran the ball 66 times for 274 yards. Stanford held the ball for 42 minutes, 34 seconds to just 17:26 for the Ducks.
"They did a great job of just grinding it and grinding it and grinding it," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
Oregon put itself in a hole with two turnovers and by twice failing to score after getting inside the Cardinal 5-yard line in the first half.
"We turn a couple of those into a touchdowns and it's a completely different game," Helfrich said.
Nonetheless, Oregon rallied from 26-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to give itself a chance, and a win probably would have pushed the Ducks back to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. Instead, as with last year's loss to Stanford, Thursday's defeat may have ended Oregon's hopes of getting to the national title game.
"Any loss is disappointing," Helfrich said, "and where we put ourselves, it's obviously magnified. We don't hold the cards anymore."
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the game, completed 20 of 34 passes for 250 yards and two scores. He also fumbled the ball away in the third quarter.
Stanford had complete control of the game until a blocked field goal attempt gave the Ducks life.
The Cardinal led 17-0 at halftime and added three field goals to take a 26-0 lead before Oregon scored on Mariota's 23-yard pass to wide receiver Daryle Hawkins with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Stanford still had things going its way until Oregon linebacker Rodney Hardrick returned a blocked field-goal attempt 65 yards for a score to make it 26-13 with 5:08 remaining.
The Ducks recovered an onside kick and scored again on Mariota's 12-yard fourth-down pass to Pharaoh Brown with 2:12 left. However, Stanford recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock, as Oregon was out of timeouts.
"I can't be satisfied with how we finished the game -- not one bit," Shaw said. "We may go down in the ratings after that fourth quarter."
The Ducks came into the game ranked second in the nation in scoring (55.6 points per game), rushing offense and total offense. However, Stanford limited them to 62 rushing yards and 312 total yards.
Stanford held a 17-0 lead at halftime after producing two time-consuming drives.
The game was scoreless when the Ducks took over at the Stanford 28-yard line following a 25-yard punt return by Bralon Addison. Oregon got as far as the Stanford 4-yard line before Mariota misfired on fourth down.
Stanford ate up 5:59 while driving 96 yards for a touchdown that made it 7-0.
The Cardinal took a 14-0 lead on a 58-yard drive that was aided by a pass-interference call Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Hogan scored on an 11-yard run.
Oregon then drove to the Stanford 2-yard line, and Thomas was ruled to be down before fumbling the ball. However, the call was overturned on review, and Stanford was credited with a fumble recovery.
From there, Stanford went on a 96-yard, 20-play drive that used the final 8:26 of the half and ended with Jordan Williamson's 19-yard field goal. A pass-interference call on Oregon on what would have been the final play of the half gave the Cardinal an opportunity to kick the field goal.
NOTES: Oregon WR Josh Huff left the game after taking a hit in the fourth quarter. He was helped off the field. ... Oregon lost for the first time in 19 games on its opponent's home field. The Ducks' last true road loss was against Stanford in 2009. ... Stanford improved its home winning streak to 14 games, the third-longest active streak in the country. Its last home loss was against Oregon in 2011. ... Oregon QB Marcus Mariota extended his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 327 since being picked off against Stanford last year. ... During a halftime ceremony, Stanford retired the No. 7 worn by former Cardinal QB John Elway. That number was also worn by Toby Gerhart in 2009 when he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. WR Ty Montgomery currently wears that number, but nobody will wear No. 7 after this season.

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