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RECAP
10/06/2012 8:41 PM EDT
No. 18 Stanford rallies past Arizona 54-48 in OT
STANFORD 54, ARIZONA 48

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Josh Nunes bailed out Stanford's defense
for a change and started to erase doubts about whether he's the
right man to replace Andrew Luck after all.



Nunes threw for a career-high 360 yards and two touchdowns and
ran for three more scores, rallying No. 18 Stanford from a
two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona 54-48 in overtime
Saturday.



Chase Thomas intercepted a tipped pass by Matt Scott in the
extra period and Stepfan Taylor ran for a 21-yard touchdown two
plays later to end a week of second-guessing Nunes with a wild
celebration in the Cardinal (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) side of the north
end zone.



"This is the kind of game that we needed," Stanford coach David
Shaw said. "We needed to fight. We needed to battle. We needed
to be into it in the fourth quarter. We needed to be down. We
needed to fight back, just to test our character. We believe
that we have that kind of character to be able to fight back
even when we're down, but it's great when you get tested and
respond to that challenge."



Maybe for nobody more than Nunes.



The offense failed to find the end zone in a 17-13 loss at
Washington last week. Nunes underthrew several passes or
misfired completely, and critics began to mount enough for Shaw
to open his weekly news conference defending his new quarterback
and boldly calling any question about a change "asinine."



Nunes followed his coach's words with his most solid game of the
season. He completed 21 of 34 passes, scrambled for first downs
and - most importantly - offset Scott's record-setting
performance.



Scott completed 45 of 69 passes - both school records - for 491
yards and three touchdowns until Henry Anderson tipped his final
pass in overtime that Thomas intercepted. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
amassed 617 total yards - same as Stanford - but lost for the
third straight game and is still winless in conference play.



"It's depressing not to win, but that's football," Scott said.



For most of the afternoon, the Wildcats scored at will and
looked more like the team that beat Oklahoma State to start 3-0
than the one that lost to Oregon and Oregon State the previous
two weeks. Facing its third straight ranked opponent, Arizona's
aerial attack shredded Stanford's defense in a way few have the
past few seasons.



The Wildcats became the first team to eclipse 400 yards passing
against the Cardinal since Oklahoma in the 2009 Sun Bowl. The
Sooners threw for 418 yards in that 31-27 win over the Cardinal.



Arizona's defense couldn't hold up when it counted.



Nunes ran his second short touchdown to trim Arizona's lead to
48-41 with 6:34 remaining. The Cardinal held the Wildcats to
only their third three-and-out on the next possession, and Nunes
led a drive that will help ease concerns about Luck's successor.



The redshirt junior ran for 16 yards on third-and-7 from
midfield, threw 17 yards to tight end Zach Ertz on fourth-and-9
from Arizona's 20 and ran for the tying touchdown with 45
seconds left in regulation.



"I made a lot of throws this week that I didn't make last week,"
said Nunes, adding that he worked on improving his velocity.
"It's not like I can't make these throws."



This time, Stanford's offense showed some fight from the start.



Taylor, who finished with 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns,
ran for 35 yards on seven carries before Nunes lofted an 11-yard
touchdown pass to Ertz in the corner of the end zone to give the
Cardinal a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession.



While the offense finally found its rhythm, Stanford's defense
struggled to slow down Arizona's up-tempo style.



Ka'Deem Carey ran for 13 yards for the first of his three
touchdowns, and John Bonano kicked a 34-yard field goal to give
the Wildcats a 10-7 lead later in the second quarter.



Nunes stayed steady and sharp, finding Levine Toilolo for a
12-yard touchdown pass to put Stanford back ahead 14-10. Bonano
kicked a 33-yard field goal to slice Stanford's lead to 14-13 at
half.



The pace picked up even more following the break.



Scott threaded a 27-yard strike to Terrence Miller inches short
of the goal line that set up Carey's short touchdown run to put
Arizona in front 20-14 less than 2 minutes into the third
quarter.



Although the Cardinal prefer to play grind-it-out games and
control the clock, Arizona simply wouldn't let them.



The teams traded touchdowns for most of the second half until
Jourdon Grandon stripped Ty Montgomery after a 16-yard catch
early in the fourth quarter. Arizona recovered and took over at
Stanford's 45.



Scott quickly led the offense down field and hooked up with
Miller for a 10-yard completion that gave the Wildcats a 48-34
lead - the biggest either side had all afternoon. Scott nearly
set the school passing record set by Willie Tuitama, who threw
for a school-record 510 yards in a 48-41 win over Washington on
Oct. 27, 2007.



Rodriguez opted to run the clock out with 45 seconds remaining
from Arizona's own 19 with two timeouts and play for overtime,
saying he "didn't want to make a mistake down there."



"Matt is a stud. He threw the ball well. We just needed to make
one more play," Rodriguez said. "There's nothing to be ashamed
of."



The Cardinal again showed its ability to bounce back after
defeat.



Stanford has won after its last seven losses. The last time the
Cardinal dropped consecutive games came in 2009, when it lost to
Oregon State on Oct. 10 and Arizona on Oct. 17.



"It's huge," Thomas said. "To show that we can face adversity,
overcome it and have that 16-round knockout fight really shows
that this team's a high-character team that never gives up and
has a never-quit mentality."



---



Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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