Stanford Football Live: Stanford 10, USC 3 (end of first)

Nov. 15, 2008

STANFORD, Calif. - The following is a quarter-by-quarter blog postings of Stanford's football game against USC at Stanford Stadium.


This game could hardly be discussed without a reference to last season's 24-23 Stanford victory in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Cardinal was a 41-point underdog before pulling out a victory referred to as one of college football's greatest upsets.

In everybody's estimation, Stanford is a much better team than it was a year ago. With a 5-5 record, the Cardinal is one victory away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2001.

The 4 p.m. PT kickoff was met by 83 degree temperatures and the first sellout at new 50,000 capacity Stanford Stadium.


Stanford took the opening kickoff and Tavita Pritchard took the first snap. Pritchard gained fame by throwing the winning touchdown pass to Mark Bradford in last year's game, in his first start.

Toby Gerhart took the handoff for two yards. Gerhart saw limited playing time last week at Oregon because of an injured hamstring and his status was somewhat in doubt.

On the next play, Pritchard hit Delano Howell off play-action for a 27-yard gain. And, on third-and-10, Pritchard scrambled for 40 more. The play set up Gerhart's four-yard touchdown run on a leftside sweep off a toss from quarterback Alex Loukas, with 11:04 left in the first quarter.

The touchdown as Gerhart's 14th of the season, tying him with Tommy Vardell for second on Stanford's single-season rushing touchdown list. Vardell is No. 1 with 20 in 1990.

Stanford's joy was short-lived because Ronald Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards, until caught by Thaddeus Chase at the Cardinal 22-yard line.

But USC tried three passes, gaining only two yards, and settled instead for a 37-yard field goal by David Buehler with 9:50 left to draw the Trojans within 7-3.

Stanford failed to gain a first down and punted, giving USC the ball. But, again, USC was unable to gain a first down. On the first play, linebacker Chike Amajoyi refused to let a lineman seal off the outside, forcing running back C.J. Cable to cut inside and lose his footing. On third down, linebacker Max Bergan surprised quarterback Mark Sanchez from behind, forcing a fumble that Sanchez recovered. It was the first career sack for Bergan.

Stanford again moved the ball. Gerhart powered to a first down in a hard collision with two defenders, and gained another on short yardage. Anthony Kimble rattled off a 20-yard run into USC territory.

The drive stalled at the USC 21-yard line, but by that time the Cardinal had gained 106 rushing yards, and outgained the Trojans, 149-3.

Aaron Zagory made the drive count with a 38-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the quarter for a 10-3 Stanford lead.

End of first quarter: Stanford 10, USC 3

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