8/7 Stanford Pushes Past K-State in Opener, 26-13
8/7 Stanford Pushes Past K-State in Opener, 26-13
0-1 (0-0 Big 12)
1-0 (0-0 Pac-12)
J. Ertz (QB): 16-34, 207yds, 1TD
C. Jones (RB): 8car, 43yds 0 TD
D. Heath (WR): 4rec, 65yds, 0TD
R. Burns (QB): 14-18, 156yds, 1TD
C. McCaffrey (RB): 22car, 126yds 2TD
M. Rector (WR): 4rec, 73yds, 1TD
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Behind an efficient offense and stingy defense, Stanford protected its home field on Friday night as the Cardinal defeated Kansas State, 26-13, in front of 46,147 fans at Stanford Stadium. The opening loss was just Bill Snyder’s third in his 25 seasons and his first opening loss since a 2013 defeat to North Dakota State.
The Wildcats (0-1) fell behind early, spotting Stanford the game’s first 17 points through the first 23 minutes of action.
K-State’s defense went to work in the second half, limiting the Cardinal to just 70 yards of total offense, but the struggles to find the end zone plagued the Wildcats in the end. The 13 points scored were the fewest by a Snyder team in an opener since K-State won on the road at Southern California, 10-6, to open the 2001 season.
Junior Jesse Ertz, in his first action since a season-ending knee injury in the first game of 2015, completed 16-of-34 pass attempts for 207 yards and one touchdown. Ertz, who was sacked eight times on the night, carried the ball on 13 occasions for 20 yards. The majority of the ground gains came through senior Charles Jones, who rushed for 43 yards on eight carries.
Redshirt sophomore Dominique Heath led the Wildcats in receiving with four catches for 65 yards, including a 44-yard grab late in the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Zuber hauled in K-State’s lone touchdown, a 15-yard pass from Ertz with 2:20 left to play in the game. Senior Deante Burton and Jones also added four catches a piece for K-State.
In total, the Wildcats amassed 335 yards of total offense with 243 coming through the air. K-State ran 24 more plays than the Cardinal and out-possessed Stanford by 1:58.
On the defensive side, the Wildcats held Stanford’s (1-0) balanced effort to 272 yards of total offense. The front seven and company contained the Cardinal rushing attack to 105 yards on 30 rushes, as Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey ran 22 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Stanford quarterbacks Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst combined to complete the team’s first 11 passes. The duo finished 15-of-19 for 167 yards and one score through the air.
In the second half, K-State surrendered just 70 yards, with 41, alone, coming on McCaffrey’s second touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Stanford offense executed 20 plays compared to the Wildcats’ 48 after the break.
Junior linebacker Elijah Lee had a game-high 12 tackles, tying his career-high for tackles, which he set against Louisiana Tech last season. Senior defensive end Jordan Willis finished five tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble. The fumble was recovered by senior linebacker Charmeachealle Moore, who returned it 35 yards to put the Wildcats in scoring position.
In his first game since returning from a season-ending injury, senior captain Dante Barnett collected four tackles, including one sack and two and a half tackles for loss.
Special teams played a major role, as always, with the Wildcats needing the help of place kicker Matthew McCrane. The junior from Brownwood, Texas booted 2-of-3 through the uprights, connecting from 30 yards twice and missing from 42 yards out. McCrane also displayed his delicate touch with a perfectly execute onside kick late in the game.
The home team took the opening kickoff and jumped out to an early lead. Stanford moved 32 yards on 9 plays before settling for a 50-yard field goal from Conrad Ukropina with 9:22 to play in the first quarter. The Wildcats would snap the ball just six times in the first quarter with Stanford holding possession before a 40-yard touchdown pass to Michael Rector with 14:53 left in the first half put the Cardinal up, 10-0. Burns’ pass to Rector capped off a 10-play, 98-yard drive for Stanford.
The Cardinal didn’t take long to extend the margin to 17-0, using a 35-yard McCaffrey touchdown run midway through the second quarter. K-State’s defense responded with a third down stop late in the half before the offense put together and an eight-play, 54-yard drive that called for a 30-yard McCrane field goal heading into the break.
K-State received the opening kickoff of the second half, but turned it over within four plays. However, a forced fumble from Willis and 35-yard return from Moore put the Wildcats’ in position to score again. The drive stalled after seven plays, but McCrane knocked his second field goal through at the 7:39 mark of the third quarter with K-State trailing 17-6.
K-State ran 23 plays to just six for Stanford in the third quarter, as the Wildcats were knocking on the door heading into the fourth. However, a missed 42-yard field goal with 13 minutes left thwarted a golden opportunity to pull within one score.
Some precision punting down the stretch pinned the Wildcats deep in their own territory. With 4:11 to play and pushed back to the one-yard line, a safety extended the Cardinal lead to 19-6. On the ensuing kickoff, McCrane executed an onside kick, recovered by junior @Jayd. A 44-yard dime from Ertz to Heath put the Wildcats in position to score and just plays later, Zuber reeled in his first career touchdown catch to slim the deficit to 19-13.
McCrane’s next onside kick fooled few as Stanford took over on K-State’s side of the field. McCaffery then added his second touchdown as he sprinted 41 yards past the defense to put the game at bay, 26-13.
The Wildcats return home on Saturday, September 17 to face Florida Atlantic (0-0) in the opener at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on FSN.