Stanford running back Toby Gerhart doesn't remember much about last September's 35-28 victory over Washington at Husky Stadium. He carried two times...
STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford running back Toby Gerhart doesn’t remember much about last September’s 35-28 victory over Washington at Husky Stadium. He carried two times for 14 yards before his day ended with a concussion.
Gerhart faced the Huskies again Saturday night, this time at Stanford Stadium, and he had a game that was simply unforgettable.
Gerhart carried 27 times for a career-high 200 yards, powering Stanford to a 34-14 win over the No. 24 ranked Huskies.
“We were just going to go at them,” Gerhart said. “It was just a mind-set. USC had quite a bit of rushing yards against them. We felt we could do the same thing, just go downhill.”
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Gerhart had 89 rushing yards on six carries by the end of the first quarter, 156 on 12 carries by halftime and 171 yards on 19 carries by the end of the third.
Gerhart’s only real miscue of the game came on Stanford’s first drive when defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim ripped the ball out of his hands and linebacker E.J. Savannah recovered at the Huskies 11.
“I was really upset,” Gerhart said of his fumble. “I take pride in ball security. I was angry. I felt like I let the team down.”
Gerhart used his anger as emotional fuel later in the quarter. He slammed up the middle, cut to his right, to his left then his right again and raced 60 yards for a touchdown, the longest run of his Stanford career, putting the Cardinal ahead 14-7.
Huskies cornerback Quinton Richardson and free safety Justin Glenn both had shots at the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Gerhart, who rushed for 1,136 yards last year. They dove at his lower legs and bounced off like dogs chasing a speeding truck.
Gerhart became the eighth Stanford back to rush for 200 yards and the first since Jon Volpe gained a record 220 at Washington in 1988.
Most of his yards came on plays that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh called “power,” with a guard pulling and Gerhart slamming off tackle.
“It’s kind of a signature play for us,” Harbaugh said. “It’s what we do well. It was working tonight.”
Although at times it may have seemed like it, Gerhart wasn’t a one-man team. Stanford’s defense did a great job against quarterback Jake Locker, holding him to 191 yards passing and 20 rushing and pressuring him into mistakes. Strong safety Delano Howell picked off two passes.
“The coaches were stressing all week, just do your job and good things will happen,” Howell said. “Locker’s a great quarterback. He can use his legs as well as his arm. We had a lot to deal with this week. We were able to contain him.”
Then there was kick returner Chris Owusu, who was lightning in a Cardinal-colored bottle. The game had barely begun when Owusu put Stanford ahead 7-0 with an electrifying 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
No one at Stanford Stadium should have been shocked. This was Owusu’s third kickoff return for a TD this season. He tied the Pac-10 season record in his fourth game.
“We weren’t really that surprised,” Cardinal linebacker Clinton Snyder said of Owusu’s TD return. “We were surprised they kicked it to him.”
Harbaugh said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“We were the favored team,” Harbaugh said. “We were playing at home. We expected to win. We wanted to do it decisively.”
They did, thanks in large part to Gerhart’s memorable night.