Stanford football: Christian McCaffrey has record-setting night
PALO ALTO -- For the record, it was a 9-yard run to the UCLA 13-yard line late in the third quarter that etched running back Christian McCaffrey's name into the Stanford annals. On that run, McCaffrey broke Toby Gerhart's single-game rushing record of 223 yards set back against Oregon in 2009. McCaffrey, who had a Heisman-like night, finished with 243 yards rushing on 25 carries as the Cardinal ripped the Bruins 56-35 in a Pac-12 game on Thursday evening.
No. 15 Stanford (5-1, 4-0 Pac-12) stayed on top in the Pac-12 North, dropping the No. 18 Bruins to 4-2, 1-2 in the Pac-12. Stanford hosts Washington on Oct. 24 in a homecoming game, starting at 7:30 p.m.
"We're stacking the 'W's'," said Cardinal corner back Alijah Holder, who had a 31-yard interception return to open the night's scoring. "All we can do is keep stacking the W's. We're not going to underestimate any team. Washington is next. They just beat USC. We're going to be ready."
One thing is certain, McCaffrey will get his share of carries, including more work out of the Wildcat formation, in the games to come. McCaffrey, in all probability, set a Stanford record for the longest TD run out of the Wildcat when he cut off right tackle before shooting up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown with 5:35 left in the third quarter, putting Stanford comfortably up 49-20. McCaffrey's four rushing touchdowns tied the school's single-game mark as he added scoring runs of 9, 28 and 6 yards.
McCaffrey opened the game with a 25-yard jaunt, later exploding for a 96-yard kickoff return where he was brought down at the 4-yard line. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan play-faked and hit Austin Hooper for a touchdown on the next play.
McCaffrey had 369 all-purpose yards, the most by any Football Bowl Subdivision player this season.
"That's awesome," McCaffrey said. "It's a huge honor, but I couldn't have done it without the team, my brothers."
Almost all of the damage by McCaffrey was done in the second and third quarters. He had just 39 yards rushing after the first quarter and didn't play a down the final quarter.
"We have a big back in a little body," said Stanford coach David Shaw of McCaffrey. "He's a heck of a football player. He had an outstanding night. His teammates had his back."
Shaw has compared McCaffrey to former Stanford star Glyn Milburn (1990-92), who wore the same No. 5 as McCaffrey.
"I like McCaffrey's attitude, No. 1," Shaw said. "When Ronnie Harris saw McCaffrey work out over the summer before his freshman year, Ronnie told me Christian was 'different.' We gave Christian bits and pieces last year because he had a lot to learn. We built his confidence. It's his attitude and approach to the game. He likes to run through tackles. He's not one of those backs who likes to just run outside. He has great vision. The last piece of the puzzle we had to get him was patience. He is more patient with the pullers now."
"I didn't know I set the record until I heard it on the loud speaker," McCaffrey said. "Props to the O-line, tight ends. fullback and receivers blocking downfield. We put up 56 points, so we'll celebrate our victory. At the same time, we haven't played our best football. We left a lot out there we can fix."
McCaffrey was No. 2 in the nation in all-purpose yards entering the game. He now sits 15 yards behind Oregon's Royce Freeman, who leads the conference in rushing with 859 yards.
* Stanford wideout Francis Owusu made an incredible catch early in the third quarter for a 41-yard touchdown (watch below).
The Cardinal ran a gadget play with McCaffrey -- who took the snap -- handing the ball off to Bryce Love, who pitched the ball to Hogan, who had lined up as a receiver. Hogan threw a pass to Owusu, who made the catch despite being interfered with in the end zone. Owusu somehow grasped the ball while putting his arms around the defender, all the while never losing control of the football as the two players hit the ground.
"I'm at a loss for words on that catch," McCaffrey said. "I saw the catch and didn't know what to do. I sprinted to the sidelines and just sat down. That was one of the most amazing things I've seen in my life."
Hogan was 8 of 15 for 131 yards and three TDs, though he threw his third interception of the season.
"Kevin Hogan managed the game well," Shaw said. "He did a great job on third downs. We needed those third-down conversions."
Stanford was 5 of 12 on third-down conversions after being 5 of 7 at halftime.
* Holder, a redshirt freshman, stepped in front of a defender for the interception of Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen, who faced a three-man rush on the play. Holder spun away from an initial tackle, then cut across the grain, showing off some fine running skills.
"It has been so long since we had a pick-six," Shaw said. "It was great to see that by Alijah."
Holder prepped at Oceanside High, located 38 miles north of San Diego. Holder's twin brother, Mikah, plays football at San Diego State, but on the offensive side of the ball.
"We're a split," Alijah Holder said. "He plays wide receiver and I played defensive back all through high school."
Stanford, which had just one pick going into the contest, had a pair of interceptions with safety Kodi Whitfield notching his first career pick. Whitfield came close to another interception, but couldn't come up with the ball after making a dive on the play.
"Having those two picks was huge," Holder said. "It's long overdue. We're going to roll with it."
One of the many factors why Stanford lost to Northwestern 16-6 to open the season was the Cardinal dropping three or four potential interceptions.
"We came out of the Northwestern game knowing we made a lot of mistakes," Holders said. "We have playmakers on defense. It took us awhile. This game is the start of it."
This article was written by John Reid from Palo Alto Daily News, Calif. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.