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Stanford cruises past Washington State

STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford started quickly Friday night, scoring on its first two possessions, and held Washington State at arm’s length the rest of the way in muscling out a 34-17 Pac-12 football victory.

The Cardinal moved to 4-2, and WSU fell to 2-5.

Stanford had a 17-7 lead at the half, but the intrigue heated up in the third quarter. First, Quentin Breshears knocked home a 46-yard field goal, a week after his short miss at the finish of WSU’s 60-59 defeat against California.

That came midway through the third quarter, but Stanford answered with a 56-yard drive, capped by Kevin Hogan’s 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Toboada, who beat safety Taylor Taliulu running to the right corner of the end zone.

WSU replied with a drive of its own, started at its 20. River Cracraft had a 19-yard catch from Connor Halliday and Jamal Morrow contributed the Cougars’ best run of the night, 13 yards to the Stanford 17. Finally, on fourth-and-goal from the 3, Halliday rolled right and found Cracraft in the back of the end zone behind the defense, and WSU had climbed back to 24-17.

Stanford got breathing room, however, when Jordan Williamson hit a 34-yard field goal with 8:17 remaining for a 27-17 lead.

After that, the Cougars couldn’t do much to make the Cardinal sweat. The final WSU series carried out to the Cougars’ 33, but a hold on center Riley Sorenson and an A.J. Tarpley sack of Halliday put WSU in a fourth-and-34 bind at its 10, and WSU punted it away. Stanford punched in a final touchdown with 1:38 left.

Stanford had 477 yards total offense to 266 for the Cougars, who had minus-26 rushing yards. Halliday finished 42 for 69 for 292 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Hogan was 23 of 35 for 284 yards and three touchdowns.

The game began ominously for the WSU defense, which allowed five plays in excess of 20 yards on the first two Stanford drives in the initial six minutes as the Cardinal took a 10-0 lead.

An offensive pass-interference call on Devon Cajuste on the first series did little to hamper the Cardinal, which quickly got a 21-yard run from Barry J. Sanders and a 22-yard reception by Ty Montgomery, leading to a 22-yard field goal by Williamson.

WSU got a first down but punted, and Stanford was back at it, getting a 24-yard run by Christian McCaffrey, and a play later, Hogan chucked it over the middle to tight end Eric Cotton, who caught it in stride behind freshman safety Suleiman Hameed for the TD.

The Cougars had an answer. They used a 41-yard deep ball from Halliday down the left sideline to Vince Mayle to reach the Stanford 11, and Halliday found Mayle in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to 10-7.

Field position was key, and after WSU was backed up at its 12, Montgomery, an elite return man, returned a Jordan Dascalo punt to the WSU 16. Eventually, Hogan threw to Greg Taboada in the right corner of the end zone. Taboada used some contact to shed WSU cornerback Charleston White, a move that drew derision on the WSU sideline.