SEATTLE -- Stanford's stay in the top 10 will be short-lived.
The eighth-ranked Cardinal wasted a third quarter lead Thursday and lost to Washington 17-13 at CenturyLink Field — its first regular-season defeat to a team other than Oregon since 2009.
"We didn't make the throws we needed to make, we didn't make the catches we needed to make, we didn't sustain our blocks in the running game as long as we should have,'' Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "We got outplayed.''
Stanford had dominated this series the past three years and was on its way to another victory, leading 13-3 late in the third quarter. But the Huskies rallied with two big plays: a 61-yard touchdown run (on fourth down) by tailback Bishop Sankey, and a 35-yard catch-and-run by receiver Kasen Williams with just under five minutes remaining.
"The explosive plays killed us,'' said Cardinal linebacker Trent Murphy, who returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown that gave Stanford its 10-point advantage.
The Cardinal defense played well enough to win, but the offense struggled. Quarterback Josh Nunes completed just 18 of 37 passes for 170 yards in his first road start, and the running game, which battered UW for 446 yards a year ago, produced just 65 on Thursday.
"Last year, they didn't adjust too much,'' Cardinal tailback Stepfan Taylor said. "But this year they were on the ball. We made mistakes, and they capitalized.''
So much for the
And so much for keeping pace with undefeated Oregon in the Pac-12 North.
"We're down one game,'' Shaw said. "Now we have to approach every day with a sense of urgency because we're behind.''
Stanford (3-1, 1-1) also needs to correct several problems after failing to score an offensive touchdown for the first time in five years.
It had numerous delay-of-game penalties -- "We were a little late to the line,'' Nunes said -- and receiver Ty Montgomery dropped several well-thrown downfield passes.
More significantly, Stanford converted just 5 of 18 third-down opportunities and failed to score touchdowns on two trips into the red zone.
If not for tight end Zach Ertz, who had six catches for 106 yards, Stanford would have been completely shut down.
"The protection was great all night,'' Nunes said. "I need to make a lot of those throws. I let a few guys down.''
Stanford appeared to gain control when Murphy deflected quarterback Keith Price's swing pass late in the third quarter. The ball came down in Murphy's hands, and he rumbled 40 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cardinal a 13-3 advantage.
Given how well Stanford's defense was playing, the lead seemed insurmountable.
But the Huskies responded in short order. Facing fourth-and-one on the next series, they handed the ball to Sankey, who headed over right tackle.
Sankey sliced through an opening, eluded a tackler and then -- with no Stanford defenders in sight -- sprinted 61 yards to the end zone.
"They broke, and they scored,'' Murphy said.
The Huskies' game-winning drive began on their 35 and included another fourth-down conversion. They took the lead on what began as a routine play:
On third down, Price turned to his right and fired a pass down the line of scrimmage to his favorite receiver, Williams, who was one-on-one with Cardinal cornerback Terrence Brown.
Williams broke Brown's tackle and darted down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown that gave UW a 17-13 lead with five minutes remaining.
"We didn't make the plays we needed to make offensively,'' Shaw said. "We left the defense out there too long.''
For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports.