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2016 Sun Bowl Final Score: Stanford Beats North Carolina in a Nail Bitter

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Solomon Thomas and Dallas Lloyd lead the way.

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Stanford vs North Carolina Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

After staring the season 4-3, it seemed unimaginable that Stanford could finish the season with ten wins, but after beating North Carolina today, they ended up at 10-3. Solomon Thomas, Dallas Lloyd, and the defense led the team today. Meanwhile, the offense struggled after Keller Chryst came out, but they still prevailed 25-23.

After both teams’ opening drives, it seemed like North Carolina would control the game; Stanford went three and out, and North Carolina scored easily. However, that was not the case. Stanford dominated defensively and forced two turnovers to set up the offense in the red zone, but the offense did not show up. Despite incredible field position, Stanford failed to score a touchdown and settled with one field goal in two chances, but Keller Chryst was not to blame. Late in the first quarter, Keller Chryst injured himself and did not return, and when he was on the field, the offense was running smoothly and was highlighted by a forty nine touchdown pass to Bryce Love. Meanwhile when Burns led the offense, the team struggled to gain yardage, and Burns looked uncomfortable in the pocket. Burns and the offense failed to convert in the red zone, and Stanford was only up 13-7 at half.

Bryce Love started the second half with a splash. After a missed North Carolina field goal, Love broke tackles for a fifty nine yard run on Stanford’s first offensive play out of half. With first and goal, Stanford lost tons of yardage on penalties and bad plays, and they had to settle for a field goal yet again. North Carolina then bounced back with a field goal of their own, and the score was 16-10. On North Carolina’s next drive, they marched down field and scored. Down 17-16, Stanford had a close game going into the fourth quarter.

Dallas Lloyd turned things around quickly for Stanford with a pick six, his second interception of the night. After a failed two point conversion, Stanford led by five but soon increased their lead after a trick play set up a field goal. However, the Cardinal were stopped at the goal line, and the failed touchdown opportunity made the game much closer than it should’ve been. With less than four minutes left, Stanford led by eight, and North Carolina had the ball. Solomon Thomas sacked the quarterback on third down however, and North Carolina was forced to punt, but the Tar Heels got one more chance with 1:34 remaining in the game. After multiple drops in the end zone, the Tar Heels finally scored with less than thirty seconds remaining, but they needed to make the two point conversion. Solomon Thomas would not let that happen. Stanford then held onto the onside kick and won the game 25-23.

The defense won the game for Stanford today. They had three turnovers, where two put Stanford into the red zone and the other turnover put up six points for the team. Mitch Trubisky is an elite quarterback, and Stanford slowed him down. Once again, the defense bailed out a struggling Stanford offense. When Ryan Burns took over, Stanford could barely move the ball and could never score a touchdown. Undoubtedly, Bryce Love was the best offensive player today as he rushed for over one hundred yards. Meanwhile on defense, Dallas Lloyd’s two interceptions were game changing but Solomon Thomas made many critical stops including the final one. If not for Dallas Lloyd and Solomon Thomas, Stanford would have lost this game, and hopefully, Thomas returns for one more year.

Football season is officially over for Stanford, and the Cardinal have won ten games or more in six of the last seven seasons.

Go Stanford.