"It's a low point," confessed Lance Briggs, who finished the game with nine tackles and an interception.
Tough loss for Cats.
The Wildcat defense came out and played a bend-but-don't break style that kept the Wildcats in the game, but couldn't put them over the edge. The defense surrendered just six points in the second half, but couldn't keep the Cardinal from grinding out the clock and converting key third downs throughout the second thirty minutes.
"We needed to get ourselves off the field," said Larry MacDuff. "We couldn't get ourselves off the field on third down. If it was third and one they got two. If it was third and six they got eight."
The Stanford offense controlled the clock.
The Cats seemed to steal the momentum when Briggs intercepted Kyle Matter in the end zone. The offense finally found the field and marched deep into Stanford territory, thanks in large part to Andrae Thurman. Thurman, who sat out the first half in response to his late taunting call against Washington, had two catches for 18 yards on the drive and also took a reverse for another 10 yards. With the ball at the Stanford 35, Johnson floated a pass into double coverage, which Oshiomogho Atogwe picked off to end the drive.
Interceptions killed the Cats
Knowing Arizona would struggle wibth the run game, the Cardinal came out with two-deep safeties in an attempt to shut down the vertical passing game of the Wildcats. The scheme worked as the Cats were forced to throw underneath most of the game.
The Cats took what the Cardinal gave them, but could never get the offense cranked up. Johnson completed 19-of-30 passes for 244 yards, but had three interceptions. To make matters worse the Cats held the ball for less than eight minutes in the second half.
Bobby Wade started strong, but the Cardinal soon adjusted and kept the talented receiver from doing to much damage. Wade did manage eight receptions for 121 yards, but couldn't make the big plays that he mustered against Washington. His 39 yard reception, the Cats' longest of the day, came on the team's final drive.
"We did not do a very good job on the tight end, Smith," said John Mackovic. "We blew the coverage on the touchdown."
The Cardinal used the legs of Chris Lewis to get on the board first. The Stanford quarterback twice avoided the Wildcat pass rush and scrambled for first downs. After just barely getting a first down on his first run, Lewis left little doubt on his second scramble. Lewis stepped up in the pocket to avoid a full blitz, broke a tackle and scooted 26-yards into Wildcat territory. A personal foul ruined the Cardinal chance to score in the red zone and they settled for a 45-yard field goal from Mike Sgroi.
A huge turnover quickly came back to haunt the Cats. With a rusher in his face, Johnson missed a receiver slip and instead fired a perfect strike to Stanford cornerback Stanley Wilson who returned the ball to the Wildcat 17-yard line. Two plays later Smith got behind Lance Briggs and hauled in a 12-yard pass for the 10-0 lead.
The Cats squandered a great 64-yard punt return by Wade when their red zone woes continued. Wade broke a pair of tackles, then made several more Cardinal tacklers miss before sprinting down the sideline with a pair of blockers and only punter Eric Johnson to beat. Johnson slipped by Lance Relford and brought Wade down at the Cardinal 15. Four plays later the Wildcats had to settle for a 25-yard Bobby Gill field goal. Johnson and Biren Ealy missed on a timing pattern and after Carr gained four yards, Johnson was forced to tuck the ball in and run on third down and was drilled three yards short of the marker.
Arizona's season long red zone struggle reared its ugly head just before halftime. The Cats used a pair of long runs to get inside the Stanford 15, but wound up settling for their second short field goal. Juan Valentine took a reverse 22 yards and Beau Carr scampered 19 yards on a draw play, but the Cats misfired inside the 15 and went into the locker room down 10-6.
Stanford came out in the second half and the game plan appeared to be all Kerry Carter, all the time. Carter carried the ball six straight times chewing up 42 yards in the process. The Cats' defense stiffened in the red zone. With first and goal at the Wildcat eight, Lewis fumbled a snap and threw two incompletions to Teyo Johnson. The Cardinal settled for a field goal to cap the 6:59 drive that opened the half and only needed one more field goal to seal the game.