Missed field goals doom Stanford in Luck’s finale
Freshman kicker Jordan Williamson sobbed as he sat in front of
his locker moments after his missed 35-yard field goal at the end
of regulation cost No. 4 Stanford a Fiesta Bowl victory over
Williamson also missed a 43-yarder in overtime. In all, he
hooked three field goal attempts to the left in the Cardinal’s
41-38 loss to the third-ranked Cowboys on Monday night.
The youngster from Austin, Texas, had missed just three field
goals in 15 tries all season, only one from inside 40 yards.
Williamson shook his head ”no” when a couple of reporters
approached his locker.
He knew he could have made sure Andrew Luck’s phenomenal college
career ended with a victory, but the Cardinal quarterback –
probably soon to become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft – said no
one was to blame for the loss.
”Put yourself in that situation,” Luck said. ”Yeah, it’s
tough. It’s very tough. I know guys will rally around him. He’s got
a very bright future in front of him. The media tends to want a
scapegoat or a hero, and that’s just not the case in any football
Luck’s final game was a masterpiece in many ways. He completed
27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns with one
interception. He threw for more yards only twice, at Arizona in
2009 (423) and against Colorado this year (370).
”Typical, typical,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. ”He makes
five plays that turn bad plays into great plays.”
Luck, however, was a lot more self-critical.
”I play to win football games,” he said. ”Yeah, it’s great to
have good stats, efficiency, whatever. But at the end of the day
it’s about winning. That’s why I love football. It’s not about one
person. Win or lose, no one ever gets all the credit or all the
Luck leaves Stanford as the school’s career leader in total
offense, touchdown passes, passing efficiency and completion
percentage. He surprised pretty much everyone a year ago when he
decided to return to college for his junior year of eligibility. He
didn’t get his team to the national title game. But after an 11-2
season, he expressed no regrets.
”Yes, it was worth it,” Luck said. ”Not to say I enjoyed
every moment, because I didn’t. But I would never regret it. I felt
I grew a lot as a person, as a player.”
Stanford outgained Oklahoma State 590-412 and had 27 first downs
to 15 for the Cowboys. The Cardinal dominated time of possession
41:47 to 18:13. But big plays by OSU star receiver Justin Blackmon
kept the teams close.
Oklahoma State (12-1) failed to score in the first quarter for
the only time all season. Luck, meanwhile, threw a 53-yard
touchdown pass to wide-open Ty Montgomery, then Jeremy Stewart ran
24 yards for a score to make it 14-0.
Brandon Weeden, though, connected with Blackmon on scoring plays
of 43 and 67 yards and it was 21-21 at halftime.
Luck’s 16-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz put Stanford back up 28-21.
Oklahoma State had a great chance to take the lead when Geoff
Meinken’s fumble was recovered by the Cowboys’ Markelle Martin at
the Cardinal 4-yard line. But Stanford’s defense held and Oklahoma
State settled for a 19-yard field goal by Quinn Sharp to cut the
lead to 28-24.
Williamson’s lone field goal, from 30 yards, boosted Stanford’s
lead to 31-24 three plays into the final quarter.
Oklahoma State responded again with a 13-play, 71-yard drive.
Weeden threw 17 yards to Blackmon for the score to tie it at 31
with 11:53 to play.
Again, Luck drove Stanford down the field, setting up Stepfan
Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown run that put the Cardinal up 38-31 with
4:34 to go in regulation. Oklahoma State matched it, converting a
fourth-down play on a slant pass from Weeden to Blackmon.
But the Cowboys scored too soon, considering how prolific
Stanford’s offense had been. Luck brought them downfield again and
set up for the potential winning field goal.
Despite the subsequent miss, there was still overtime. Stanford
got the ball first and Taylor gained five yards on first down. But
uncharacteristically he was caught for an eight-yard loss on second
down. Luck’s third-down pass gained just three yards, and
Williamson missed again.
Oklahoma State took over and Weeden threw to Colton Chelf, who
appeared to score. A review showed his knee was down at the 1,
though. Weeden purposely took a 4-yard loss to set up Sharp’s field
goal. It was good, and the turn of events was stunning on the
somber Stanford sidelines that had been poised to celebrate just a
few minutes earlier.
When Sharp’s 22-yard field goal sailed through the uprights at
the end, Oklahoma State led for the only time of the night. The
Cowboys dedicated the victory to the four people who were killed in
a November plane crash, including the school’s women’s basketball
coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna.
The Cowboys were disappointed they didn’t get a chance to play
for the national championship, yet that didn’t at all factor in
their performance against Luck and the rest of the Cardinal.
”Every time we got down,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy
said, ”they just found a way to come back.”