Arizona State wide receiver Gerrell Robinson caught three touchdowns in the game's last six minutes, as the Sun Devils downed No. 25 Stanford 31-28 in a shootout.
Trailing 21-10, Robinson beat the entire Stanford secondary down the left sideline for a 87-yard touchdown from Samson Szakaczy with 5:39 to go. After Stanford kick returner Chris Owusu fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, Szakaczy again found Robinson, this time from four yards out with 4:41 left on third and goal.
Arizona State led 24-21, and after a Stanford turnover on downs left the Devils with a short field, the home team added an insurance score with 2:30 to play. Again, it was Robinson, this time from five yards out, and suddenly, Stanford's Rose Bowl hopes had evaporated in the desert.
"You don't even dream of games like this," Robinson said. "Three touchdowns in three minutes? I still can't believe it."
"This loss is entirely on me," said Luck, who beat himself up at length postgame about his three interceptions. "To the fans in Cardinal nation, I'm sorry, extremely sorry. But I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the rest of the country play as hard as I will play in the rest of the season, and you will never see somebody push the rest of the team as hard as I will the rest of the season, and you will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season."
Despite his conviction, Luck was not solely to fault for the loss. Several bad habits the Cardinal had overcome in weeks and years past caught up with them today:
* After missing a field goal attempt and an extra point last week, kicker Nate Whitaker pulled a 37-yard attempt wide right in the first quarter, obviously no small matter in an eventual three-point loss.
* Stanford won four fewer games on the road than at home last year, and three fewer two years ago, and appears to be on the same path this season. The Cardinal are 4-1 at home, with the only loss to powerhouse USC and a slumping Oregon State still to visit, but just 3-2 on the road with a visit to Cal, winners of four straight, pending next week.
* Stanford has scored first in just two of its nine games this season.
"We can't do that to our defense, fall behind every week and then expect they'll hold so we can come back," Jim Harbaugh said. "Don't get me wrong, our secondary did not do well at all this week, and they'll be hearing plenty from me at practices. But if we get that field goal, if we don't turn it over as much, if we don't leave all those points on the board, we could have had 50 today."
On the positive side, the game marked a breakout for Levine Toilolo, whose 6-foot-8 frame repeatedly gave Luck a target over the middle. Luck took full advantage, finding his tight end five times for 104 yards.
"We can't feel too bad about ourselves for too long," Toilolo said. "Next week is Big Game, so you can bet we'll be up for that."
Stanford took its first lead of the game on Arizona State's first series of the second half, as defensive end Thomas Keiser scooped Szakaczy's bobbled snap and scored from 26 yards out to put the Card ahead 7-3. After the teams traded punts and Szakaczy found his tight end, Thomas Kohl, for a 16-yard score, Stanford again retook the lead, as Jeremy Stewart converted from the ASU two to put Stanford ahead 14-10.
Fullback Owen Marecic gave Stanford its biggest lead of the day, 21-10, a minute into the fourth quarter, with his second touchdown reception of the year. Interestingly, like his first catch, it came on a play-action rollout, with Luck rolling to his right and finding an unguarded Marecic in the flat.
Ultimately though, Marecic's score simply set the stage for ASU's heroics, and will almost assuredly knock the No. 25 Cardinal from the Top 25. Though they finished the 2009 season unranked, the Cardinal were ranked in polls at this time last year, but this past week's ranking was their first of the 2010 campaign.
Toby Gerhart, last year's Heisman runner-up and the current starting tailback for the Minnesota Vikings and NFL Rookie of the Year candidate, was in attendance on the Stanford sideline, and could be seen coaching up his alma mater's young tailbacks throughout the game, but the Card looked like they could have used Gerhart himself out there. Stanford ran for 98 yards on 32 carries, failing to crack the 100-yard mark for the second time this year.
FG ASU: T. Weber, 44-yd field goal, 5:02 left. Arizona State 3, Stanford 0.
TD Stan: T. Keiser returned fumble 26 yards, 14:20 left. Stanford 7, Arizona State 3.
TD ASU: T. Kohl 16-yd pass from S. Szakaczy, 5:01 left. Arizona State 10, Stanford 7.
TD Stan: J. Stewart 2-yd run, 1:32 left. Stanford 14, Arizona State 10.
TD Stan: O. Marecic 7-yd pass from A. Luck, 14:04 left. Stanford 21, Arizona State 10.
TD ASU: G. Robinson 87-yd pass from S. Szakczy, 5:39 left. (2-Pt failed.) Stanford 21, Arizona State 16.
TD ASU: G. Robinson 4-yd pass from S. Szakczy, 4:41 left. (2-Pt.) Arizona State 24, Stanford 21.
TD ASU: G. Robinson 5-yd pass from S. Szakczy, 2:30 left. Arizona State 31, Stanford 21.
TD Stan: C. Owusu 83-yd pass from A. Luck, 1:30 left. Arizona State 31, Stanford 28.
|Third down conversions||4-10||5-14|
Key Stanford player stats
QB Andrew Luck: 15-of-31, 321 yards, two TDs, three INTs
WR Chris Owusu: four receptions, 130 yards
TE Levine Toilolo: five receptions, 104 yards
DE Chase Thomas: five tackles, three TFL, 1 PBU
@Stanford 35, Sacramento State 6
Stanford 22, @UCLA 16
Stanford 52, @Wake Forest 14
Stanford 30, @Notre Dame 27
@Oregon 16, Stanford 7
USC 31, @Stanford 7
@Stanford 36, Washington State 21
Stanford 21, @Washington 11
@Stanford 13, Arizona 3
@Arizona State 31, Stanford 28
Stanford at Cal
Stanford vs. Oregon State
Inspired by reading stories like this as a kid in the Michigan student newspaper on game days, the author hopes you enjoy reading this series every bit as much as he enjoys writing it. The 2010 season is being simulated on EA Sports NCAA 2011, with the author playing all Stanford games and simulating the rest in a dynasty mode.
All statistics, game summary, rankings, player news and out-of-town scores are reported unchanged from game simulation. (I.e. Don't call the author pessimistic if Stanford struggles. Call him bad at video games.)
Got any idea for future weeks, especially if they're funny? PM dannovi.
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