Gaffney, Stanford run past Notre Dame
Stanford, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish made a goal- line stand last season, defeating the Stanford Cardinal in overtime en route to a perfect regular season and a BCS National Championship appearance.
This season, however, Stanford got some revenge by doing what they do best, running the football and daring the opposing defense to stop them.
Tyler Gaffney rushed for a career-high 189 yards with a touchdown on 33 carries to lead No. 8 Stanford to a 27-20 win over 25th-ranked Notre Dame at Stanford Stadium.
Kevin Hogan was 12-for-18 passing for 158 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and Anthony Wilkerson finished with 34 yards on five carries and a score for the Cardinal (10-2), who outrushed Notre Dame 261-64 in the win.
"They're really good up front," said Stanford head coach David Shaw. "We knew we had to keep pounding, we knew we had to keep fighting. We knew that they were going to come back. They're that good of a football team."
Notre Dame (8-4) had a chance to tie it late but Wayne Lyons came up with his second interception of the day and Stanford ran out the final 2:24 of clock to secure the win.
Tommy Rees threw for 199 yards on 16-of-34 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Notre Dame's opening drive was highlighted by two third-down conversions from Rees after he hit DeVaris Daniels for 18 yards and Corey Robinson three plays later for a 22-yard pickup.
Kyle Brindza made a 21-yard field goal as the Irish couldn't punch it in from inside the Stanford 10.
Stanford answered with a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Kevin Hogan picked up 15 yards on 2nd-and-9 and then found Devon Cajuste for a 23-yard completion two plays later which put the Cardinal at the Notre Dame 28-yard line.
After Gaffney rushed for nine and three yards on back-to-back plays for a first-down, Hogan found Cajuste again for a 16-yard touchdown. Cajuste acted as if he was blocking on the play and bolted to the end-zone when Hogan lofted it into his out-stretched arms for a 7-3 lead.
"We ran a balanced offense, ran the ball well" said Hogan. "(Gaffney) had a great game, hit some key third-down conversions, kept the chains moving."
Following a Notre Dame punt, Stanford started from its own 44-yard line. Hogan found Ty Montgomery on two consecutive plays for gains of 19 and 18 yards to the Notre Dame 15.
Gaffney rushed for six yards on 2nd-and-3 to the Notre Dame 2-yard line as the first quarter came to a close. He would later pound it in on third-down for a touchdown to give Stanford a 14-3 lead with 13:37 remaining in the half.
Later in the second, Rees led another scoring drive deep into Stanford territory. On 1st-and-10 from the Stanford 44, Rees found Daniels for a 20- yard completion, but the drive ended with a 27-yard field goal from Brindza with just over two minutes remaining. The Irish trailed 14-6 heading into halftime.
"There's no moral victories," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. "Very disappointed we weren't able to come up with a play and win the football game."
Similar to its first possession of the game, Stanford opened the second stanza with a seven-play, 76-yard march that spanned nearly four minutes
Hogan found Cajuste across the middle and the wide receiver scampered 36 yards down to the Notre Dame 21. Wilkerson rushed right up the gut for a 20-yard touchdown three plays later.
The Irish were then aided by two costly penalties from Alex Carter on their ensuing drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Jones.
On first down at the Stanford 49, Carter was called for pass interference. Following a 16-yard completion to Daniels, Rees hit Troy Niklas for four yards to the Stanford 14, but Carter was flagged for a personal foul on the play.
Folston rushed for three yards and then Rees hit Jones who was running along the back of the end zone for the score.
Gaffney then gashed the Irish for 41 yards on four carries down to the Notre Dame 8-yard line. He would bulldoze his way into the end zone two plays later but a holding penalty negated the play and Jordan Williamson made a 27-yard field goal to put the Cardinal up 24-13.
Rees made another huge third-down conversion at the Notre Dame 25 following the field goal when Jones hauled in a 20 yard pass along the sideline and a roughing the passer penalty moved the ball to the Stanford 40.
Niklas made a nice 19-yard catch along the far sideline on 3rd-and-10 which extended the drive and Rees found Daniels wide open in the corner of the end zone for a 14-yard strike to pull the Irish within four, 24-20.
Stanford then answered with a 12-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 28- yard field goal from Williamson. The Cardinal rushed the ball on all but one play, chewing up over seven minutes of clock to bridge the third and fourth quarters.
Notre Dame's defense remained stout when it needed to in the fourth, but the two costly turnovers helped the Cardinal to their fourth win in the last five games against Notre Dame.
"I thought they (defense) hung in there, played hard, made some plays for us, gave us an opportunity to win" said Kelly. "Our defense gave us a chance to win the game."
Stanford has won 5-of-6 overall heading into the Pac-12 Championship game in Tempe, Arizona against Arizona State ... Notre Dame is 6-7 at Stanford Stadium ... Daniels finished with 79 yards on five receptions while Jones caught six passes for 56 yards ... The Cardinal did not allow an Irish running back to reach pay-dirt again. The last Irish running back to score a touchdown against Stanford was Armando Allen in 2008 ... Notre Dame is now 2-10 in its last 12 meetings against Top-10 opponents.
12/01 00:55:53 ET