Widgets Magazine

Instant recap: Football can’t stop TCU’s comeback in Alamo Bowl defeat

Sophomore quarterback KJ Costello’s late game interception sealed No. 15 Stanford football’s (9-5) 39-37 loss to No. 13 TCU (11-3) in the 2017 Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday night.

Stanford led 21-3 at one point in the second quarter before TCU mounted a fierce comeback to take the win.

With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and on third-and-fifthteen, Costello forced a pass to sophomore tight end Kaden Smith, but he was intercepted by TCU safety Innis Gaines. The Horned Frogs ate the remainder of the clock to give them the bowl victory,

Junior running back and Heisman runner-up Bryce Love was as healthy as he had been since the Oregon game where he suffered his ankle sprain. He rushed for 145 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Costello was up-and-down as he completed 15-of-27 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns — all to junior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. However, he threw two interceptions on misplaced throws.

The mantra at the start of the game was defense as the Cardinal couldn’t score on its first two drives. The first drive ended in a three-and-out and the second drive ended on a missed 52-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Jet Toner after TCU’s fake punt misfired.

However, after TCU quarterback Kenny Hill’s errant pass on the run was intercepted by junior safety Frank Buncom, Love trudged ahead, behind his blockers and powerful running, for a 15-yard touchdown run to give Stanford the first lead of the 2017 Alamo Bowl.

The Cardinal defense broke a little on the Horned Frogs’ third drive. Hill completed a 42-yard bomb to wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Five plays later, TCU kicked a 38-yard field goal to cut Stanford’s lead to 7-3.

On Stanford’s next drive, freshman wide receiver Connor Wedington made his presence felt with catches of 12 and 18 yards to keep the drive moving for the Cardinal. Love’s 20-yard run helped set up Costello’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Arcega-Whiteside.

After TCU went three-and-out, Love’s 10-yard run broke Stanford’s single season rushing record, which was previously held by Christian McCaffrey (McCaffrey did it in 2015). The elation was short lived as Costello overthrew sophomore wide receiver Donald Stewart and was picked off by the Horned Frogs defense. The Cardinal defense held strong and forced another TCU punt.

More smashmouth running by the Stanford running backs led to another Costello to Arcega-Whiteside touchdown. The score gave Stanford a 21- 3 lead with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter.

TCU countered the score with its own long touchdown drive of nine plays and 76 yards. Hill scrambled to the right side of the end zone for a 6-yard scoring run.

The Horned Frogs employed some trickery to start the second half. Hill threw a backwards lateral to wide receiver Desmon White, who then passed it back to Hill, and he scampered down for a 21-yard touchdown. The touchdown made the score 21-16 in favor of Stanford.

The game seemed to be slipping but then Love did what he had done all season. Love took the ball 69 yards for a touchdown to give Stanford a 27-16 lead.

The Horned Frogs struck back when Hill’s 11-yard touchdown pass to White capped off a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cut Stanford’s lead back to five.

On Stanford’s next drive, Costello completed a 50-yard pass to junior running back Cameron Scarlett to set up a 27-yard field goal for Toner to push the Cardinal’s lead to eight.

On TCU’s ensuing drive, sophomore cornerback Malik Antoine forced a fumble which was recovered by Buncom. The Cardinal couldn’t capitalized on the good field position and punted the ball.

TCU had its longest play of the game when Hill threw a 93-yard touchdown pass to Reagor to cut Stanford’s lead to one. The Horned Frogs failed on the two-point conversion, which meant the Cardinal still led after TCU’s explosive play.

But the Horned Frogs weren’t done yet. White took Stanford’s punt 76 yards for a touchdown to give TCU its first lead of the game at 31-36.

The Stanford offense then shook off the TCU haymaker by driving down the field for a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. Costello hit Arcega-Whiteside for their third touchdown of the game together. However, the Cardinal couldn’t convert the two-point conversion, which would prove costly as TCU took a two-point lead on a field goal on the following drive.

Stanford’s last drive of the game started horribly with a delay-of-game penalty. Then, after a false start penalty, Costello under threw a smothered Smith and was picked off to end the game.

With no more games until next year, the Cardinal await which draft-eligible players will declare for the draft and the Cardinal and White Spring game in April.


Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    Senor Saldana, su cuenta es buena… your account is factual, sequential, and thoroughly covers many of the crucial plays. Muchas gracias.

    Pero, me parece que hay una primera falta… it is the most overlooked battle (obviously to not just you) that often determines a war game such as this. That is, the contest along the *line of scrimmage*, or LoS, and how that violent, brutal struggle usually effects the explosive scoring hi-lites.
    It seems to me, for instance, that because of a lack of depth on the Stanford DL, that unit was pretty much gassed by just before the end of the 1st half. Furthermore crucial members of the front seven, the firey Alfieri and LB Sean Barton were already out, and LB Curtis Robinson left with an injury mid-game – although those setbacks were offset to a certain degree by both Bobby “the Ogre” Okereke and Peter “Kumbaya my Lode” Kalambayi, who both made some big plays. As usual Harrison “Ford” Phillips was extra-terrestrial and played a starring role for as long as he could, before he was relentlessly double-teamed. Jovann Swan was a big help too until the Swan song began with an injury fairly early on. To my eye it looked like Jackson and Cotton were overmatched as the Frog’s OTs jumped them and out-jumped them, making for a ribbitting message that soon became loud and clear to all Texans and Cards gathered near the Texas home pond (not far away).
    It’s also important to note in the D backfield, Reid and Holder were both out, although Frank “no bunk” Buncom might’ve played the best game of his career with 2 Ints and 1 fumble recovery.

    > So the old adage proves true again : Good defense wins games. Great D wins ‘ships.

    Towards the end of the 2nd quarter, TCU scored to close the 21-3 gap the fresh Tree D had enforced early, to 21-10. And then in the 2nd half, Stanford did not, or could not fully re-group, and TCU began to take control, successfully blocking on O and ST and chopping the Tree down to size. That ultimately allowed them to make some huge plays, and squeak out the high scoring win, while the Stanford D croaked, losing the final 35 minutes or so, 16-36.
    Meanwhile, on the other side, Stanford’s OL was not dominant either. Costello was frequently pressured. Imo the OL was adequate though, for most plays against an active and powerfully amphibious defense. But too soon and too often Hall and Hamilton and others were over-powered or out-quicked by the highly reputed Froggy D and their multiple play-makers on the DL, until in the end, the Frogs got a leg up.

    Conclusion : Especially if Phillips graduates to the NFL, Stanford needs to do some heavy lifting AND recruiting on the down low, along the DL.

  • ADPaterson

    Who of the LBs are coming back?
    Hopefully DW Perry, who red-shirted, can step into Phillips’ big shoes.
    Ditto Ryan Johnson and Mike Williams.
    And, perhaps T.Booker could contribute as a Frosh.

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    Of the LBs, from what i can tell, Mike Tyler, Kalambayi, and Kevin Palma are all out of eligibility.
    Of potential returnees, most notably, Okereke, Alfieri, Barton, Robinson, Casey Toohill, and Mustafa Branch can return if they don’t opt for the draft.
    Along the DL, it looks like Phillips could come back with a medical redshirt due to his season-ending injury in the first game of 2015, but i imagine he’ll also be a highly sought after prospect at the next level.. If on the outside chance he decides to return that would be a HUGE lift for next year’s defense.
    In the backfield, it looks like Buncom, Reid, Edwards, Holder and Meeks all have another year of eligibility if they choose to use it.

  • lspanker

    As predictable, the Stanford Junior College Band made total @sses of themselves, thinking insulting people who don’t live in the land of fruits and nuts and legal MJ would go over well, and were booed off the field (and I thought the Cal band were a bunch of jerks…).

  • Candid One


  • Candid One

    The secondary, old or new, needs more speed. Throughout the season, when anticipation wasn’t enough, too often guys would get beat and be left as staggering spectators. Of the secondary’s healthy 2-deep, only Ben Edwards and Elijah Holder have significant catch-up speed. That was continually apparent when Meeks, Reid, Buncom, and Murphy got beat and the former would be the only ones gaining. That lack of speed has been Stanford’s primary shortfall in this decade. Good opposing offenses are too often blessed with faster receivers who beat the Cardinal secondary if the front seven isn’t partying in that backfield. Generally, INTs, by the secondary, aren’t going to happen often enough to compensate for TDs against it. LSJU isn’t going to get the better talent as readily as other brand-name schools, so maybe luck of the draw is what it is.

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    “..more speed.” ?
    — hmmm, would be nice, but am not necessarily agreed to that feed..
    Their 18 INTs was tied for 11th nationally… that ranking is as high as it’s been since at least ’08, prob’ly longer..
    Their TD/INT ratio was a solid, 20/18, probably as good as it’s been with a couple exceptions. Top 25 range, maybe not great, but with a strong, good pressure DL, definitely good enough..
    It seems to me, the Tree had/and will have a very strong, experienced, smart, deep, D backfield… however, a lot also depends on injuries and recoveries..
    But even with the key injuries this year to Holder, Reid, Meeks, Buncom I think missed some games (?), and others.. even so Aquina has recruited a strong group, with depth, and fresh reinforcements on the way…