The Stanford Cardinal opened their 2013 campaign in a very favorable way tonight, topping the San Jose State Spartans 34-13. Last year, the Cardinal also kicked off the season with a win over the Spartans, but the 2012 final score of 20-17 was much less decisive.
There were a number of losses experienced by head coach David Shaw after 2012, including a number of vital offensive playmakers. Therefore, many Stanford fans were eager to see who would step up in place of stars such as Stepfan Taylor and Zach Ertz.
Luckily for the Cardinal, Tyler Gaffney decided to return to the gridiron after taking a year off to pursue his baseball career. It looks like he may be the go-to guy on the ground in 2013, carrying 20 times for 104 yards and two scores.
Receivers Ty Montgomery and Devin Cajuste also looked extremely sharp, and should take over for Ertz and Levine Toilolo as quarterback Kevin Hogan’s primary targets.
The night started out on a strong note for Stanford, as the team’s elite defense halted San Jose State’s first drive early on. Hogan followed it up with a 40-yard touchdown to Cajuste to make the game 7-0 and give the Cardinal their first points of the season.
The Spartans answered with a long drive, but Stanford held them to a field goal, maintaining its lead. Gaffney then crossed the goal line for the first time since the 2011 season, giving the team a solid 14-3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter.
Two Jordan Williamson field goals and a beautiful Ty Montgomery touchdown, where he tip-toed down the sideline and snuck inside the pylon, gave the Cardinal a 27-6 lead midway through the third quarter, until San Jose State finally spoke up again with a Noel Grigsby touchdown catch heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter did not see much action, as the only score for either team was a 2-yard Gaffney touchdown run.
Kevin Hogan picked up where he left off in 2012, leading the team effectively. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and should prove to be one of the conference’s best signal-callers this season. Stanford’s outstanding defense also proved to be worthy of the hype allowing only 35 rushing yards and 216 passing yards.
This early win certainly bodes well for the reigning Pac-12 champions, and they’ll look to continue their success next Saturday when they take on Army.