Owusu, McCaffrey lead No. 15 Stanford past No. 18 UCLA 56-35
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — One jaw-dropping catch by Francis Owusu nearly overshadowed a record-setting performance from Christian McCaffrey.
Owusu pinned the ball on the back of a defender in the end zone for one of the most memorable catches in recent memory and McCaffrey did most of the rest with a school-record 243 yards rushing and four touchdowns in No. 15 Stanford’s 56-35 victory over No. 18 UCLA on Thursday night.
“That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” McCaffrey said.
He was talking about Owusu’s catch but others could have said it about McCaffrey’s own performance. He scored on a 70-yard run out of the wildcat, returned a kick 96 yards to set up another score and ran for three more touchdowns in a virtuoso performance that broke Toby Gerhart’s school record of 223 yards rushing in a game set in 2009.
McCaffrey finished with 369 all-purpose yards as the Cardinal (5-1, 4-0 Pac-12) beat the Bruins (4-2, 1-2) for the eighth straight time.
“We’ve got a big back in a little body,” coach David Shaw said of McCaffrey, who some critics once questioned if he was strong enough to thrive in Stanford’s power running game. “He’s a heck of a football player, not just a great runner.”
For all the accolades McCaffrey earned in this game, the lasting memory was provided by Owusu on his 41-yard TD catch.
It started with McCaffrey taking a direct snap in the wildcat and handing to Bryce Love on a jet sweep. Love the flipped the ball to quarterback Kevin Hogan, who had lined up as a receiver on the play. Hogan set himself in the backfield and threw deep to Owusu.
Despite being interfered with by a face-guarding Jaleel Wadood in the end zone, Owusu still managed to trap the ball against Wadood’s back while not even being able to see it. Owusu managed to keep his hand on the ball to maintain control as the two fell to the ground.
“I saw it for a little bit and then from there I felt the ball after that,” Owusu said. “I didn’t really see it and squeezed as hard as I could when I felt it.”
Shaw had already assumed it would be incomplete and was looking at his chart for the next play when he was told Owusu made the catch. The usually stoic Shaw then cracked a smile on the sideline.
“I can’t describe that catch,” Shaw said. “I don’t understand what happened to be honest.”
Hogan threw for 131 yards and three TDs on eight completions and McCaffrey took over the national lead in all-purpose yards with 1,518 for the Cardinal, who have scored 225 points the past five games after being kept out of the end zone in a season-opening 16-6 loss at Northwestern.
Josh Rosen threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Paul Perkins ran for 104 and a score, but the Bruins still dropped their second straight contest to fall further back in the Pac-12 South race.
“Every loss hurts. We have to execute a lot better than we did tonight,” safety Randall Goforth said. “Their quarterback did everything right and they outplayed us. I just have to make sure everybody is staying together and we’ll come back and be ready to fight.”
Stanford maintained its dominance in this series with its most overwhelming performance in decades. The Cardinal have outscored the Bruins 277-131 during the current streak and had their highest-scoring game against the Bruins since a 57-0 win in 1929.
The Bruins’ injury-depleted defense had no answer for the power running and trick plays from Stanford’s offense. The Bruins have lost star linebacker Myles Jack and three other defensive starters to season-ending injuries and the absences showed against the Cardinal.
The offenses had their way for most of the first half, but Stanford went into the break with a 35-17 lead thanks to a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown by Alijah Holder that opened the scoring, a 96-yard kickoff return for McCaffrey that set up another score and two more TD runs by McCaffrey.
UCLA receiver Kenneth Walker was ejected late in first half for a targeting penalty on a block on Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez.
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