EditorsNote: Edit 1: Minor edits throughout
Cameron Scarlett caught quarterback K.J. Costello’s fumble mid-air in the end zone for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter Monday afternoon, allowing Stanford to beat Pittsburgh 14-13 in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Outplayed most of the game by the Panthers (7-7), the Cardinal (9-4) drove 76 yards to the Pittsburgh 2-yard line before Costello faked a handoff and plunged into the Cardinal line.
After a hit by Dewayne Hendrix, the ball popped into the air and right into the hands of Scarlett, who had been blocking in the end zone.
Jet Toner’s PAT with 11:28 remaining provided the game-winning point, allowing Stanford to finish the season on a four-game winning streak.
In winning its fourth bowl game in the last five seasons — and playing in a bowl game for the 10th straight season — Stanford triumphed despite being outgained 344-208.
Pittsburgh has now lost four straight bowl games dating back to the 2014 season.
Scarlett also scored the Cardinal’s other touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter to give Stanford a 7-3 lead after Alex Kessman’s 29-yard field goal for the Panthers had opened the scoring earlier in the period.
Darrin Hall, the game’s leading rusher with 123 yards on 16 carries, put Pittsburgh back on top with a 6-yard run 2:32 before halftime.
Hall had a busier day than expected after Pittsburgh lost star running back Qadree Ollison to an ankle injury in the first half after just five carries for 23 yards.
Stanford was without its top back, Bryce Love, who sat out to protect his high NFL draft status. Scarlett finished with 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his absence.
Kessman’s second field goal, a 28-yarder, increased the Panthers’ lead to 13-7 in the third quarter.
Though neither team had a turnover, neither quarterback had much of a game, either.
Costello went just 6-for-17 for 105 yards — though 49 of those yards came on a key connection with JJ Arcega-Whiteside on the game-winning drive. Arcega-Whiteside was the game’s leading receiver with 90 yards on three catches. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett went 11-for-29 for 136 yards.
—Field Level Media