San Diego State turns lights out on No. 19 Stanford
San Diego State coach Rocky Long went so far as to ask the referees if the Aztecs’ game against No. 19 Stanford at San Diego Stadium could resume under the dim lights that remained on during a power outage Saturday night.
The Aztecs drove from their 25-yard line to the Stanford 42 with 3:58 remaining and the Cardinal clinging to a four-point lead when most of the lights went out in the stadium.
“I asked the refs, ‘Why don’t you ask (Stanford) Coach (David) Shaw if we could finish the game with the lights like they were,’” Long said. “I know it was kind of dark and it might not have been good for TV, but I wanted to keep our momentum going.”
The power outage, which lasted 23 minutes, did not pull the plug on San Diego State’s game-winning drive in the 20-17 victory over Stanford.
Christian Chapman completed three consecutive passes after the lights came back on, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Wells with 54 seconds left, giving the Aztecs (3-0) their winning margin.
On Stanford’s ensuing possession, quarterback Keller Chryst was intercepted by cornerback Kameron Kelly to secure the historic upset, dropping Stanford’s record to 1-2.
San Diego State achieved its third consecutive victory over a Power 5 opponent — all from the Pac-12 — for the first time in program history. The Aztecs won at Arizona State last week and defeated California last season in San Diego.
“I don’t want to downplay it but I thought we would win when we came to the stadium today,” Long said on the field after the game among a throng of celebrating fans. “We expected to win. Beating two Power 5 teams (this season) is a big step forward for us.
“What we can take from this is we can beat anybody at any time.”
Stanford coach David Shaw believed that his team had the advantage of the power outage because of the way San Diego State was driving behind running back Rashaad Penny, whose 11-yard run was the last play before the lights went out.
“I commend the officials for keeping everybody informed,” Shaw said. “We had guys who could get some rest when play stopped. I don’t think it affected either team. If anything, I thought it would hurt them because they were moving the ball. I look at it as our guys on defense not getting the stops like we expected them to.”
Stanford running back Bryce Love conjured images of former Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, leading the Cardinal with a career-high 184 yards rushing.
Penny, producing like former Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey, ran for 175 yards on 32 carries with one touchdown.
Love amassed his yards on only 13 carries, producing at an average of 14.2 yards per carry. He scored on touchdown runs of 51 and 53 yards.
Love’s 53-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter put Stanford ahead for the first time since the Cardinal led 7-3 on his 51-yard sprint with 12:38 left in the second quarter.
“Bryce is just an explosive football player who when given the opportunity, will make some plays,” Shaw said. “He’ll clean things up for us. He’s the kind of guy who can make good plays out of bad plays.”
After Love’s score in the fourth quarter, Penny answered with a 36-yard run to the Stanford 20.
The drive stalled when Stanford linebacker Casey Toohill sacked Chapman on a third-and-14 play, forcing John Baron II to attempt a 50-yard field that he missed, breaking his streak of six consecutive conversions to start the season.
Baron made a 36-yard field goal with 8:33 left in the third quarter to give San Diego State a 13-7 lead. It was Baron’s FBS-record 25th consecutive conversion within 50 yards.
Stanford did not convert on a third-down attempt in six tries until Love rushed six yards to the Stanford 40 with 7:45 left in the third quarter. Love followed with a 47-yard run to the San Diego State 13.
The Cardinal drive ended at the 4 with Shaw electing to attempt a field goal instead of going for the first down on fourth-and-inches. Jet Toner’s 20-yard field goal with 4:51 left in the third quarter cut San Diego State’s lead to 13-10.
Chryst finished 9 of 20 for only 72 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cardinal did not commit a turnover in its six previous games dating to last season.
Chapman was 21 of 29 for 187 yards, one score and no interceptions.
NOTES: The game involved identical twins — San Diego State WR Mikah Holder and Stanford CB Alijah Holder — playing each other. ... Entering the game, Stanford junior RB Bryce Love ranked first among Pac-12 players — and fifth nationally — with 340 yards rushing. ... Stanford will be the 129th and last FBS program to play at home this season, on Sept. 23 against UCLA. ... Stanford is the highest-ranked team to play San Diego State at San Diego Stadium since Fresno State was ranked 15th nationally when the Bulldogs won 35-28 in overtime on Oct. 22, 2013. The Cardinal are the highest-ranked nonconference opponent since Sept. 24, 1998, when No. 16 Arizona visited and beat San Diego State 35-16.