Stanford can’t hold off Washington State’s late rally, falls on the road

With a chance to tie or win the game, Stanford couldn’t even attempt a pass.

Tanner McKee was sacked twice and forced to scramble a third time, eventually fumbling the ball back to host Washington State as Stanford lost 34-31 Saturday night.

The Cougars (4-3, 3-2) won for the fifth straight time in the series, scoring the winning TD on a 2-yard run by Max Borghi with 1:30 left.

The Cardinal (3-4, 2-3) got the ball back with 1:23 left on its 36 but McKee never even had a chance to get the drive going.

Despite playing without three of his top four wide receivers due to injury, McKee had been solid before then. He completed 23-of-32 passes for 273 yards and two TDs. His main targets were running back Austin Jones and tight end Benjamin Yurosek — Jones had nine catches for 75 yards and Yurosek had five catches for 99 yards.

But the lack of a running game — Stanford had 35 attempts for 76 yards — meant the Cardinal couldn’t run out the clock, and Washington State took advantage in the end.

Playing an unranked opponent for the first time in four games, Stanford led 13-0 after the first quarter.

Sophomore tight end Benjamin Yurosek caught his first career touchdown, a 45-yard pass from McKee, and sophomore Joshua Karty kicked a career-high 51-yard field goal. The Cardinal even got another break when WSU linebacker Jahad Woods, who has the third-most career tackles among active FBS players, was ejected for targeting.

But Washington State turned the tables in the second quarter, scoring 20 straight points to take the lead. Jayden de Laura had three touchdown passes in the quarter — 32 yards to Travell Harris, 31 yards to Calvin Jackson Jr. and 10 yards to De’Zhaun Stribling on the first play after Stanford running back Nathaniel Peat fumbled at his own 10.

The only silver linings for Stanford was a blocked extra point by Thomas Booker — his third blocked extra point in two seasons — and a 2-minute drill that led to a field goal to end the half.

The Cardinal got within 27-24 with 14 minutes left when McKee scored on a QB sneak and then added the two-point conversion on a zone read.

After de Laura overthrew Jackson for a potential 71-yard TD, Stanford got the go-ahead TD when Austin Jones bounced off a tackler and scored on an 8-yard run to put the Cardinal up 31-27 with 7:32 to play.

But the Cougars went right down the field when it mattered most and then stuffed Stanford to end it.

Next, Stanford hosts Washington on Oct. 30.

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Author: Harold Gutmann