The game-winning touchdown SDSU senior tight end David Wells scored with just 54 seconds left to play almost poetically described the entire game played Saturday night at old Jack Murphy, where the stadium lights went out in the 4th Quarter for nearly 25 minutes.
The Cardinal had stacked the box on a 1st & Goal, as Aztecs star running back Rashaad Penny (32 rushes / 175 yards rushing / 5 receptions / 31 yards receiving / 1 TD) had been dominant all night.
SDSU junior quarterback Christian Chapman, recognizing this, ran a perfectly-timed play fake, rolling out to his right and dropped the ball over Stanford Senior Linebacker Peter Kalambayi. Wells caught it cleanly, turned, and then ran straight through senior safety Brandon Simmons at the two yard line to score the game winning touchdown. It was all heart, all night for the Aztecs, and the fans absolutely appreciated the grit they showed. When the clock ﬁnally ran out on Stanford, thousands of Aztec faithful wildly stormed their team on the ﬁeld at The Murph.
The Cardinal never showed any quit themselves, they simply got beat by a more physical team in SDSU. Senior defensive lineman Harrison Phillips (10 tackles / 6 solo / 1 sack / 1 tﬂ) and junior running back Bryce Love (13 rushes / 184 yards rushing / 14.2 ypc avg. / 2 TD), both superstars in the making, again kept Stanford in contest nearly by themselves. Love found the end-zone on huge runs of 53 and 51 yards, and for long stretches of time, Phillips was the only Cardinal defender able to have any impact at the line of scrimmage.
Much of the credit and praise for this win goes to the Aztecs ﬁeld general, Head Coach Rocky Long. SDSU, at 3-0 on the season and coming off back-to-back wins versus Pac-12 schools, moved up to #22 in the AP poll as a result of the win. Coach Long, widely respected as one of the best coaches in college football, has brought SDSU back to the prominence it last knew during the Marshall Faulk era.
Stanford head coach David Shaw (65-19 on The Farm) humbly took full responsibility for the loss, saying, “I didn’t prepare the team well enough. (SDSU) is a really good football team.” That may be an understatement on both levels.
Aztecs senior cornerback Kameron Kelly (6 tackles / 2 sacks / 1 interception / 1 forced fumble) clearly outplayed everyone in the the highly-touted Stanford secondary, and may have been the best player on the ﬁeld Saturday night. In recognition of his tremendous efforts, he won the recognition of Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week.
The road does not get any easier for Stanford (1-2), as they begin the heart of their PAC-12 schedule this week, hosting UCLA on The Farm. Stanford Senior Quarterback Keller Chryst (9 for 20 completions / 72 yards / 2 interceptions / 4.8 QBR) will have to be much, much better if he hopes to keep his starting job. (Honestly, I don’t think I have ever seen a QBR in single digits before.)
If the Cardinal do decide to make a change at quarterback, Senior back-up Ryan Burns has a wealth of starting experience, while Sophomore K.J. Costello is thought to be the future of the program. Coach Shaw may very well stay with Chryst to start against the Bruins, but I would expect his leash to be extremely short. However it plays out, Stanford will not only need better quarterback production to win the tough PAC-12 battles, but a more physical presence in all three phases of the game.