"I personally was fighting back tears, just to see Chris lying on the ground again," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "The good thing is he was conscious, he was fine, they had already made the decision to put him on the stretcher so they had to take him. He's already back in the locker room and he's fine. He's excited to be back and we'll talk about whether or not he'll play anytime soon at a later date."
Added Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck: "It's scary. It's scary when it happens, especially when it happens to a guy that has had it happen before."
There were a few nervous moments for Stanford on the scoreboard as well. The Cardinal were up 17-7 at halftime, and only 17-13 after Oregon State scored on the first drive of the second half.
As they have after every slow-start this season, however, Stanford responded. Up 17-13 midway through the third quarter, the defense forced the Beavers into a punt. Stanford's offense went on to score touchdowns on its next three drives, a 27-yard pass from Luck to running back Stepfan Taylor, a 14-yard pass from Luck to tight end Coby Fleener, and a 10-yard run by Tyler Gaffney.
"We were really itching to get back out there and play again [after the first half] because we were a little disappointed in ourselves," Luck said.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal defense found a way to stifle Beaver signal caller Sean Mannion, who was sacked three times in an 18-30, 252-yard performance. After Stanford scored to go ahead 24-13, Chase Thomas forced Mannion into a fumble that was recovered by Matt Masifilo deep in Beaver territory. Stanford's pass rush improved as the game progressed, putting a damper on any hopes Oregon State had at making a comeback.
"The pressure was great, but the pressure only is great if the coverage holds up," Shaw said. "And the coverage held up a few times just long enough for us to get to the quarterback."
The Cardinal wasn't sharp at all in the first half. Griff Whalen and Coby Fleener dropped would-be touchdown passes, Luck threw a rare interception, and only a blocked field goal at the end of the half prevented Stanford from taking only a seven-point lead into halftime.
Both teams failed to score on their first two drives of the game before the Cardinal finally found the endzone on their third, when short-yardage specialist Jeremy Stewart punched it in from two yards out. Stanford extended its lead to 14-0 on its next possession, when Luck found an open Whalen for a 17-yard scoring strike.
The Beavers' offense finally mobilized midway through the second quarter. A series of successful passing plays led to a 15-yard touchdown pass from Mannion to James Rodgers.
Stanford answered with a field goal, and blocked Oregon State's 50-yard field goal as time expired.
Once again, the Cardinal defense helped the team maintain a lead going into halftime despite a less-than-stellar effort by the offense.
"Every road game you can credit our defense," Shaw said. "Every single road game we've started slow on offense, and every single road game our defense has kept us in the game. That's just the way that it's been all year."
Although he made a few uncharacteristic poor decisions, Luck completed 20-of-30 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Stanford gained 302 yards on the ground, and had six players rush for at least 28. Conversely, Oregon State gained only 33 yards on the ground, and mustered only 285 yards of total offense.
"It really hurts you when you can't sustain more running yardage than that," Beaver coach Mike Riley said. "That was a major difference in the game. We hit some fly-sweeps, but we got very little up the middle."
Stanford will now return to Palo Alto and prepare for the game of the year in the Pac-12, a showdown with Oregon next weekend, with ESPN's College Gameday on hand. The Cardinal know they'll need to play nearly mistake-free to earn a victory.
"We can't turn the ball over, we have to play 60 full minutes," Shaw said. "We can't play 58, we can't play 30 like we did last year. Offensive, defense, kicking game, you have to play 60 minutes against a great team, and that's what they are."
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