Bryce Love, Stanford dent No. 9 Washington's playoff hopes

By The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 11, 2017 at 11:10 AM
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Bryce Love's Heisman campaign looked like it had run its course after a poor showing last week at Washington State was followed by an ineffective first half against Washington.

Then the Love who ran all over every team Stanford faced in the first half of the season suddenly reappeared, and with each big run he broke off, he pushed Washington further out of the playoff picture.

Love shook off a bum ankle to run for 166 yards and three touchdowns, two in the second half, as Stanford squashed No. 9 Washington's playoff hopes in a 30-22 victory on Friday night in Stanford, Calif.

"On one leg. Give me a break," Stanford coach David Shaw said of Love, who came in leading FBS in rushing yards per game at 182. "His pain tolerance is through the roof. I don't think you can find a better player in America than Bryce Love."

The Cardinal (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) trailed 14-10 at halftime before running off 20 consecutive points, with Love's two touchdown runs doing the bulk of the damage. Washington (8-2, 5-2) hadn't allowed more than 23 points in any game this season.

Stanford moved into first place in the Pac-12's North Division, a half-game ahead of Washington and Washington State.

Love gave Stanford a 17-14 lead with 9:15 left in the third quarter on a 13-yard run, his third of 10 or more yards on the drive. Prior to that, he had 42 yards on 14 carries, hobbled by an ankle injury that caused him to miss the Cardinal's 15-14 win at Oregon State on Oct. 26.

The Cardinal extended the lead to 20-14 on a 32-yard Jet Toner field goal with one second left in the third quarter on a drive that saw Stanford convert three third downs. A third Toner kick, from 31 yards out, made it a nine-point game with 11:45 left after Huskies running back Myles Gaskins lost a fumble at the Washington 31.

Love then iced the game with a 9-yard touchdown run, his 15th of the season. His 11 consecutive games with a TD run is the longest active streak in FBS.

Washington, which scored on its first two drives, pulled within eight on Gaskin's third TD run of the game, a 1-yard score, with 4:22 to go. Gaskins finished with 120 yards on 18 carries.

The Huskies got the ball back with 2:35 left after Toner missed on a 48-yard field goal but quarterback Jake Browning was sacked on third down and then gained only nine yards on fourth-and-19. He was 17 of 23 for 190 yards.

"They just played their game better than we played our game," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "They hold the ball, grind up time, try to limit your possessions, and they did exactly that."

Washington marched 88 yards on 12 plays on its first possession to go up 7-0 with 6:16 left in the first quarter, scoring on a 2-yard run by Gaskin. He had 38 yards on six carries on that drive while Browning was 5 of 5 for 46 yards.

Stanford responded with its own lengthy drive, 84 yards in 14 plays, with Love scoring on a 1-yard run. The drive was kept alive by a fourth-and-1 conversion near midfield when redshirt freshman quarterback KJ Costello muffed a snap but managed to pick it up and still push through the pile for a yard.

Costello threw for 136 yards and ran for 21 in the first half.

"We challenged our guys up front, run and pass, to give it their best effort and I thought they did that tonight," Shaw said.

Gaskin's second TD of the night, a 15-yarder, put Washington up 14-7 with 11:37 left before halftime. This came three plays after Browning eluded numerous Stanford defenders on a scramble and then found sophomore wide receiver Aaron Fuller for a 47-yard gain.

Browning was 10 of 12 for 120 yards in the first half, completing his first nine passes.

Stanford pulled within four on a 38-yard field goal by Toner with 1:32 left in the first half.

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NOTES: RB Bryce Love moved into sixth place in Stanford rushing history with 2,631 yards, passing Anthony Bookman (2,523) and Tyler Gaffney. ... RB Myles Gaskin has 37 career TD runs, tied with Bishop Sankey for the Washington career record. ... Stanford coach David Shaw's 71 victories are tied with Pop Warner for the school's all-time lead. ... Washington entered the game having allowed just three plays of 30-plus yards all season. Stanford junior WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside had a pair of 39-yard receptions in the second quarter, tied for the longest plays of the year against the Huskies.

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