It was a back-and-forth affair that saw multiple big runs from each team and a historic receiving night from the Cardinal’s Simi Fehoko. Davis Mills shook off a three-interception performance to throw three scores and lead his team to a dramatic 14-0 run to end the game and force overtime. But it wasn’t pretty the whole way through.
The Cardinal put forth a pretty dominant first half overall, limiting the Bruins to very little through the air (just 5.4 yards per pass) and very little on the ground despite UCLA’s continued attempts on the ground.
Mills and Stanford outgained the Bruins by a combined margin of 265-161 through the first two quarters and it was the Austin Jones / Short-Run Game Special in the first half. Jones took two carries from a yard away for touchdowns while Isaiah Sanders got work in as the wildcat QB with a touchdown run himself from two yards out.
In total, after a holding penalty negated a UCLA touchdown and the Bruins missed a field goal, the Cardinal were dominant leaders at the break, 20-3.
They also added insult to injury in the first quarter when Simi Fehoko trucked a defender in space that set up a Jones touchdown.
Simi Fehoko is trouble for DBs pic.twitter.com/YyiZ177naO— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) December 20, 2020
But as good as the first half was, the third quarter gave pause.
Mills tossed two interceptions and the Cardinal saw their 17-point lead evaporate within 15:06 off the game clock of the second half. Stanford allowed a rushing touchdown to Keegan Jones on the first drive of the second half for the Bruins before Mills threw a pick that led to yet another score, this time a pass from backup quarterback Chase Griffin to TE Greg Dulcich for 17 yards. That score cut the lead to just three points but then the turnover bug struck again.
Mills threw his second pick of the quarter on the next drive and that led to a quick, 4-play scoring drive that saw UCLA go 84 yards in the blink of an eye.
The very first play of the fourth quarter saw UCLA take the lead with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Chase Cota as the team was clearly a different animal after the halftime break.
What started off as great, turned bad quickly, then back to more fun for the Cardinal. UCLA went on a 31-0 scoring run before Stanford crept back into the game. After throwing three interceptions in the second half including a pick-six, Mills came back and with a short memory, tossed a beautiful drive that saw him connect with Fehoko for 11 yards and a score to bring the score back to a one-possession game.
Despite a failed onside kick, UCLA fumbled on their ensuing possession and the Cardinal took back over with just under two minutes remaining, down seven points.
The game-winning drive attempt saw a bit of everything including a successful fourth-down conversion, a failed sideline throw, an injury or two, and much more. It capped with another Mills to Fehoko touchdown connection as Mills found the big man over the middle of the field for 21 yards and six points.
Jet Toner atoned for an earlier missed PAT with the game-tying extra point to push the score to 34-34. And that’s when they would head to overtime.
After back-to-back scores to start the overtime from each team, the second overtime period saw history for Fehoko. He broke a Stanford record with his 16th catch for most catches in a game and continued his climb into the record books for yards as well. His third touchdown of the game pushed the lead to 48-41 with the Bruins getting the ball in the second half of the second overtime.
The drama wasn’t over at that point, however, even as the Cardinal backed up the UCLA offense to a 4th & 18 situation in the second overtime, Stanford allowed Griffin to find WR Kyle Phillips for 21 yards and a score to push the score to 48-47.
And after a choppy ending to the game that included multiple penalties and two different 2-point conversion attempts from UCLA, the Cardinal emerged victories and winners of four straight to end the year.
Mills finished the game throwing 32-for-47 for 428 yards and 3 touchdowns against his 3 interceptions. Jones led Stanford runners with 92 yards on 23 carries and his two touchdowns while Fehoko’s historic night capped at 16 catches for 230 yards and all three of Mills’ scoring tosses.
The Cardinal defense did allow the Bruins to run all over them in the second half, giving up a total of 291 yards to Bruins carriers including 219 to Brittain Brown.
But in the end, it was the final yard that Brown couldn’t get on that two-point conversion attempt that sealed the deal for Stanford.
The Cardinal will ride a four-game win streak to close out the year as David Shaw and Co. reached their win total from all of last year in half the games.
Kudos to a strange, wild year for the Road Dogs. It certainly was one for the ages and one we won’t forget anytime soon.
Especially this win against UCLA.