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No. 5 Stanford ‘mentally tough’ in tight Pac-12

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POSTED October 6, 2013 8:54 p.m.

STANFORD  (AP) — Stanford rarely wins pretty. In the last two years, though, the Cardinal just always seem to win.

Fifth-ranked Stanford survived for its 13th straight victory in similar fashion late Saturday night, withstanding Keith Price’s prolific passing performance in a 31-28 win over then-No. 15 Washington. Stanford (5-0, 3-0) showed that the same kind of might and muscle that propelled the program to a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl victory last season might be good enough to contend for another conference championship and maybe even more.

“We are a tough, mentally tough team, which of all the things you can ask for as a coach, that’s what you want,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “You want guys that don’t blink.”

Shaw should know.

In the last two years, Stanford is 7-1 in games decided by six points or fewer. The only other loss during that stretch was a 20-13 overtime defeat in a controversial finish at Notre Dame early last season at Washington while the Cardinal were still transitioning to life without Andrew Luck.

The rematch was another game Stanford did just enough to win. Washington’s offense outgained Stanford’s 489 to 284 yards. The Huskies had 30 first downs, while the Cardinal finished with 14. And both quarterbacks threw one interception.

The difference? Special teams.

Ty Montgomery had a school-record 290 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He caught three passes for 56 yards, ran 30 yards on two carries and racked up 204 yards returning kicks, including going 99 yards on the opening kickoff to put the Huskies (4-1, 1-1) behind for the first time all season and keep them there every time the game got close.

WASHINGTON STATE BEATS CALIFORNIA 44-22: BERKELEY (AP) — If Washington State could protect Connor Halliday, the Cougars were confident he’d have a big day.

Halliday threw for 521 yards and three touchdowns in the second most prolific passing game in school history and Washington State used its highest scoring conference game in 10 years to snap an eight-game skid against California with a 44-22 victory Saturday.

“He’s a tough kid,” guard John Fullington said. “We have confidence in him. If we give him time, he’ll make plays.”

That’s just what Halliday did a week after getting knocked out in a loss to Stanford. There were questions about whether Halliday would start this week and he answered them quickly with TD drives on the first two possessions for the Cougars (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12).

That launched a big day as Halliday completed 41 of 67 passes and had the biggest passing day in the conference since Alex Brink set the Washington State record for yards with 531 in 2005 against Oregon State.

NO. 23 FRESNO STATE BEATS IDAHO 61-14: MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr insists he wasn’t aware of the gaudy statistics he piled up in the first half as the No. 23 Bulldogs routed Idaho 61-14 on Saturday.

Carr had 390 yards passing and all five of his touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes. It was all the Bulldogs really needed against a thoroughly overmatched opponent.

“Those things I don’t think about,” Carr said. “My job is to get the team in the end zone.”

“I promise you that is all I think about, whether it’s running the ball or throwing it: what is the best option for getting the ball in the end zone,” he said.

Fresno State scored at least 40 points for the fifth time this season.

Davante Adams caught three touchdown passes for Fresno State (5-0), which is off to its best start since 2001, when they won their first six games.

Idaho (1-5), coming off a win over Temple in coach Paul Petrino’s first season, didn’t score until the fourth quarter against the first ranked opponent to play in the Kibbie Dome since Boise State in 2010.

Fresno State scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and was never threatened. It was the best defensive performance of the season for a team that has been surrendering 38 points per game.

FALES THROWS SAN JOSE STATE PAST HAWAII, 37-27: HONOLULU (AP) — David Fales threw three touchdown passes and Austin Lopez kicked three field goals and San Jose State beat Hawaii, 37-27, at Aloha Stadium Saturday.

The Spartans (2-3, 1-1 Mountain West) rallied from a 14-3 first-quarter deficit with 31 straight points to snap a three-game losing streak.

Fales tossed touchdown passes of 61, 35 and 27 yards and completed 16 of 35 passes for 318 yards. Lopez converted on field goals of 44, 51 — a career-long — and 37 yards.

San Jose State posted 550 yards of total offense, including 232 rushing yards - both season-highs. Tim Crawley led the way with 21 rushes for 93 yards and Jarrod Lawson added 12 carries for 89 yards. Tyler Winston caught six passes for 159 yards.

San Jose State took a 3-0 lead just minutes into the game on Lopez’ 44-yard field goal. It was the first time since a season-opening win — three losses ago — that the Spartans held a lead in a game.

UC DAVIS RUNS OVER SOUTHERN UTAH 21-3: CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) — UC Davis rode workhorse running back Gabe Manzanares to a 21-3 victory over Southern Utah on Saturday, the Aggies’ second straight victory after opening the season with four losses.

Manzanares rushed for 175 yards on 33 carries, including two second-quarter touchdown runs.

Manzanares, who ran for 208 yards against Idaho State last week, prospered against a Thunderbirds defense that had been only been giving up 98 yards rushing per game.

Instead, it was UC Davis (2-4, 2-0 Big Sky) that enjoyed a big day against the run, holding the Thunderbirds to 45 yards. As a result, Southern Utah turned to Aaron Cantu, who went to the air 50 times, completing 29 for 281 yards — all career highs — but throwing two interceptions.

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