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Home | Tag Archives: stanford vs pitt

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Gallery+Story: Fans and Traditions Keep Hyundai Sun Bowl Fresh, Fun

It was a day of family, food and football as the Stanford Cardinal took on the Pitt Panthers in El Paso’s 85th Annual Sun Bowl Game. The energy was high, both on the field and in the stands.

Out in the parking lot, before the game, the connection of community, both local and from afar, was everywhere.

This was my first time covering the Sun Bowl, and only the second Sun Bowl game I’ve ever been to. I decided to go out and discover what people like best about the city and the game.

No matter who I spoke to, there was one common theme – El Paso is a great city with great people.

The Villarreal family, all Stanford alums, were out to show their support for both their school, their team, and the city of El Paso.

“Well, the Sun Bowl is, you know, it’s our marquee event,” says Jose Louis Villarreal of El Paso. “Growing up here, it’s a matter of pride to showcase the city.”

For Jose he attends every Sun Bowl game Stanford has ever played in, beginning in 1977 when he was only in the sixth grade. He’s also attended a total of 30 Sun Bowl games!

“Both things run in my blood, Stanford and the Sun Bowl, and it’s just a great day,” said Jose. “The Sun Bowl has a reputation of being the most hospitable bowl,” says Jose. “Stanford has been to other higher tier bowls, and they say there is no comparison to the way they’re treated here.”

“First time at the Sun Bowl, first time in El Paso,” says Jeff Gamza of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “It’s a beautiful area.”

Before today’s game, he spent three days in El Paso, and what stands out to him?

“The landscape and all the mountains,” said Jeff. “This is a beautiful area.” He also spoke of the people and the fan fiesta.

“People of El Paso have been very friendly,” he said. “The Sun Bowl committee has done a great job here. The fan fiesta was great; it was open to the entire public for free. They had some great stuff there for the kids and the families. It was a great time.”

Lynn and Matt Watson made the trip to the Sun Bowl from Claysville, Pennsylvania.

“We are huge Pitt fans, we’ve been at every Pitt game since he was six-weeks-old,” said Lynn Watson as she pointed to her son Matt, who is not seventeen years old.

Matt will be graduating from high school soon and will be heading off to college not long after. What does he want to do?

“I’m not sure yet,” says Matt, “but probably something to do with sports.”

Don Barr, who is originally from Pennsylvania, and now lives in Phoenix came to El Paso to cheer on Pitt.

“I love everything about Pitt, we’re very close to Pitt,” says Don. “I like the basketball, especially when they were in the Big East, now they are in the ACC. We’ve always been Pittsburg Fans.”

Barr added that Pitt has played one of the toughest football schedules in their division.  “At one point they played about seven teams that were in the top twenty,” said Don.

Patricia and Doug have a daughter in the Pitt Marching Band.  “She’s a senior,” said Patricia as Doug said they were so proud of her.
“And we love El Paso,” said Patricia. “People are so friendly here. Every Uber we’ve taken has been wonderful.”  This was their first time in El Paso and Texas.

For everyone who came from out of town, they could not stop talking about how friendly El Paso is, or how much they loved the food – even Chico’s Tacos.

As I continued to walk through the crowds, talking to people, they were just amazed that El Paso is as friendly as it is.  Then, there are those, like the Villarreal family, who are from El Paso, who’ve made the Sun Bowl game a family tradition.

“We always come to the Sun Bowl,” says Ray Lopez. “It’s our tradition,” says his wife, Cynthia.

The Lopez family has been to at least fifteen games they say. Who are they cheering for? Let me tell you; their answer was one of the best I’ve ever heard.

“We are only going for Stanford ‘cuz we have our annual tickets that we pay for,” says Cynthia Lopez. “We’re right next to the band. So, whoever’s on our side, that’s who we root for, who I root for.”

Then there is the food. In every parking lot, there are people who’ve brought out the grills and began cooking. I was treated to everything today, from hamburgers to burritos. But the best ones came from Carl Townsend.

“We have about 20-25 people that we tailgate at the Sun Bowl every year,” said Carl Townsend. “I try to make what I call the world’s best burritos.”

Let me tell you, they were made from smoked filet mignon and they literally melt in your mouth!

“I’ve been to probably the last twenty-five in a row,” said Carl Townsend, talking about how many Sun Bowl games he’s attended. “Sometimes we have really good games; sometimes we don’t. But you know what? We always have a good time.”

“It’s a very positive image for the city of El Paso,” said Carl of the Sun Bowl. “We have the best weather in the United States. We are a progressive town, a good town. It’s seen nationally.”

He was rooting for Pitt, as he is originally from the mid-west. But there was a bit more behind his decision.

“Stanford, their top boys, don’t like to show up, so I root for the Pitt Panthers,” he said.

It was about this time that I caught up with Drew, a member of the Stanford band.

“This is my first time in El Paso,” said Drew. “It’s beautiful. I’ve never been in a desert like this before; I don’t really know if this is a desert. It’s beautiful, and the people are really nice.”

Now, if you’ve never seen the Stanford Marching Band before, I don’t know what to tell you. They are a band that has as much fun as humanly possible.

“They are fun,” says Aubrey, a ten-year-old from Pittsburgh. “It’s not boring when they play.”

She’s right, and Drew agrees.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Drew. “It’s a good way to express ourselves, a good way to just have a good time on campus. I love it. We rock out every day.”

I also spoke with Brad Townsend, the band director for Pitt. Ten years and twelve years ago he was at the Sun Bowl when he was with Oregon State.

“I like, it’s just a big event,” said Brad. “Everybody in town is so into it and so appreciative of the teams being here.”

Those fans, the people from El Paso, from out of town, this game is big. Even if you are Robles, an excited four-years-old, who is attending his first Sun Bowl. His dad has attended the past four Sun Bowl games. What does he like best?

“The excitement, the marching bands, battling it out. Everybody hitting hard on the field,” said Robles. “A good family environment.”

What does he say to those who have never attended a Sun Bowl game before?

“You’ll see a great game, a lively game,” said Robles. “The two teams are going to play very hard, all the way to the fourth quarter. You’re going to see two great marching bands. Very loud and thunderous. It’s just an excellent atmosphere.”

Simi Fehoko, wide receiver for Stanford, who took a two-year break from football to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Korea made his bowl debut today.

It’s been good; it’s been fun this whole week of games and events. People are very nice,” said Simi. “Football is big in Texas. We went to the mall the other day, and everybody was stopping us, ‘oh, you play football for Stanford,’ it was just awesome.”

To sum it up, the one thing almost everyone had to say was that this is an amazing game, a tradition that continues. For those who came
from out of town, they simply couldn’t believe how friendly everyone is.

El Paso is, as I’ve discovered through the eyes of visitors, an amazing place.

Story in Many Pics: Stanford Slips by Pitt 14-13 to Take Hyundai Sun Bowl

For the second time in three years the Stanford Cardinal came to El Paso and were outgained yardage-wise by their opponent, and for the second time in three years the team from the Pac-12 came out with a Sun Bowl victory as the Cardinal outlasted the Pittsburgh Panthers, 14-13, to win the 85th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Stanford (9-4), which had to stave off a late North Carolina rally in 2016 to win by two points, had to do the same on Monday in front of 40,680 fans to hold on to a one-point win over Pitt (7-7). It is the first one-point final in the Sun Bowl since 2006.

The game was also turnover-free for the first time in 20 years.

With the win the Cardinal move to 4-1 in the Sun Bowl. The four wins are the most my any team, other than El Paso’s own UTEP (five wins), in Sun Bowl history.

Stanford was outgained in total yards 344-208, lost the time of possession battle by over seven minutes and went 1-for-10 on third downs, but found a way to pull out the victory on a lost fumble by quarterback K.J. Costello at the 3-yard line that somehow found its way right into the hands of running back Cameron Scarlett who was standing in the end zone.

“It’s not about yards, it’s about points. There’s so many different stats and I appreciate the Pro Football Focus stuff, but that doesn’t win football games,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “You’ve got to run the ball well, you’ve got to stop the run, you’ve got to be great on first down, you’ve got to be great on third down and you’ve got to be great in the red zone.”

Pitt had a final possession to try and steal the win, and after a 4th-and-11 conversion from its own 3-yard line with 2:27 left it seemed as if it might just be the Panthers’ day. But another fourth-down conversion fell short a few plays later and sealed the win for the Cardinal.

Scarlett finished with 94 yards on the ground and two touchdowns for Stanford on his way to being named the C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player of the game. Costello finished with 105 yards through the air while senior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside had three catches for 90 yards, including the biggest catch of the game, a 49-yard catch and run that set up the wacky winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Thomas Booker nabbed the Jimmy Rogers, Jr. Trophy as the game’s best lineman.

“Coach Shaw referred to it in the locker room, I mean this game was a lot like the season, the first half of the season, but effort was never a question with these guys, they are going to figure it out,” Costello said.

On the Pitt side, quarterback Kenny Pickett finished 11-of-29 for 136 yards passing. Senior running back Darrin Hall finished with a game-high 131 yards on the ground while receiver Taysir Mack accumulated 68 yards on four catches.

“I look at our 208 yards rushing and 344 total yards to their 208 and I just doesn’t add up how that score ends up being 13-14 but that’s really the only stat that matters,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said.

The game got off to a slow start as the Sun Bowl had a scoreless first quarter for the first time in six years.

The Panthers drove into Cardinal territory during its first two drives, including getting to the Stanford 28-yard line on its second drive of the day. But a loss of yardage during a running play and a 10-yard sack thwarted the Panthers’ drive.

Pitt finally broke through on the second play of the second quarter as its third drive ended on a 29-yard field goal by Alex Kessman. The biggest play on the 6-play, 54-yard drive was a 47-yard scamper by Hall. Kessman was named the John H. Folmer trophy winner as the game’s top special teams player after going 2-for-3 on field goals.

“Really we just wanted to take advantage of the coverage that they were showing. We felt that we could get the ball out quick and do some work there, which I thought we did,” Pickett said. “We only had a couple of explosives down the field passing. I wish we had some more deep shots that would’ve ended up in touchdowns.”

Stanford, on the other hand, could not getting anything going during its first four drives as the team from the Pac-12 started the game with four consecutive three-and-outs. The Cardinal were held to a total of three yards in the first quarter and did not get their initial first down until the 10:53 mark of the second quarter.

But after its initial first down, the Stanford offense finally came alive as the Cardinal went on a 7-play, 64-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Scarlett.

Even though Stanford was outplayed by the Panthers, they still held a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

Pitt, however, had an answer. The Panthers showed the power of their running game as they answered the Cardinal touchdown with one of their own.

Pitt’s 75-yard drive ate up over five minutes of playing time and culminated with a 6-yard touchdown run by Hall, who finished with 93 yards rushing in the first half. The touchdown gave the Panthers a 10-7 led at the half.

The teams traded three-and-outs to start the second half, but with Pitt at midfield during it s second drive, Pickett hit Mack down the left sideline for a 41-yard hookup that put the ball at the Cardinal 9-yard line.

The Panthers could not punch it in the end zone, however, as they settled for Kessman’s second field goal of the day, a 28-yarder that increased the Pitt lead to 13-7 at the 8:13 mark of the third quarter. It would be the only score of the quarter.

“Offensively we have to finish drives in the red zone,” Narduzzi said. “Overall, offensively and defensively we outplayed them we just didn’t win on the scoreboard which is unfortunate and I feel bad for our seniors.”

Stanford’s winning drive began in the third quarter, and after eight plays and 78 yards the Cardinal marked the final points of the game with 11:28 left.

Pitt drove down the field on its next possession trying to answer Stanford’s score as it had in the first half. The Panthers drove to the Cardinal 35-yard line, but a couple of negative plays forced a 55-yard field goal, which Kessman missed short and wide right.

Pitt would get its final try after forcing a Stanford punt, but the drive ended after a non-conversion of a 4th-and-three with 1:44 left.

Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post

FINAL: Stanford 14 (9-4, 6-3 PAC-12), Pitt 13 (7-7, 6-2 ACC)  |  Attendance: 40,680

The 17 combined points at halftime were the least since Dec. 31, 2012 when USC and Georgia Tech combined for 14 points. Georgia Tech and Utah combined for 17 points at the half on Dec. 31, 2011.
The 20 combined points through three quarters were the fewest since 21 points combined by USC and Georgia Tech on Dec. 31, 2012.
Stanford’s one-point win over Pitt was the first one-point margin of victory since Oregon State edged Missouri, 39-38, on Dec. 29, 2006.
The combined 27 points was the least since Oregon State’s 3-0 victory over Pitt on Dec. 31, 2008. The 2012 Sun Bowl saw 28 combined points (Georgia Tech 21, USC 7).
The three combined touchdowns were the least since USC and Georgia Tech combined for four touchdowns on Dec. 31, 2012.
The combined 552 total yards was the least since 451 yards were combined for in 2008 (Pitt vs. Oregon State).
Stanford and Pitt combined for zero turnovers. It’s the first time since Dec. 31, 1998 (TCU vs. USC) that neither team committed a turnover in the Sun Bowl game.

With Stanford’s victory, it now has four wins in the Sun Bowl game, the second most ever behind UTEP’s five victories. The Cardinal also defeated North Carolina, 25-23 (Dec. 30, 2016), Michigan State, 38-0 (Dec. 31, 1996) and LSU, 24-14 (Dec. 31, 1977).
Stanford has won its last two Sun Bowl appearances, but has been outgained yardage wise in both contests. North Carolina outgained Stanford 398-283 on Dec. 30, 2016, while Pitt outgained Stanford, 344-208.
Stanford punter Jake Bailey punted nine times (401 yards), ranking tied for seventh most in Sun Bowl history. Bailey’s three punts inside the 20-yard line ranks tied for sixth most in Sun Bowl history.
Jake Bailey, who tallied 401 yards on nine punts, is one of seven punters in Sun Bowl history to hit 400-plus yards.

Pitt’s Alex Kessman connected on a 29-yard field goal, first points for Pitt in the Sun Bowl since Dec. 30, 1989. Henry Tuten caught a 44-yard touchdown from Alex Van Pelt in the fourth quarter that year.
Darrin Hall rushed for 123 yards. He’s the first player to rush for over 100 yards in the Sun Bowl game since Stanford’s Bryce Love rushed for 119 on Dec. 30, 2016. Hall added a touchdown, six-yard rush in the second quarter.

Stanford RB Cameron Scarlett was named the C.M. Hendricks MVP
Scarlett rushed for 94 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns
Scarlett is the seventh RB to win the C.M. Hendricks award since 2005
Scarlett gave Stanford a 7-3 lead on a one-yard TD run during the second quarter
Scarlett gave Stanford the go-ahead lead with a fumble recovery in the end zone in the fourth quarter with 11:28 to play
Scarlett had a long rush of 16 yards during the third quarter

First Quarter Notes
First scoreless first quarter since in the Hyundai Sun Bowl since 2012.
Pitt outgained Stanford in total yards, 114-1.
Pitt RB Darrin Hall rushed for 67 yards.
Stanford LB Sean Barton tallied four total tackles.

Second Quarter Notes
Pitt tallied 112 yards compared to Stanford’s 84.
Pitt threw for 53 yards and rushed for 59.
Stanford threw and rushed for 42 yards, respectively.

Halftime Notes
Pitt outgained Stanford in total yards in the half, 226-85.
Pitt edged Stanford in total possession time, 19:43 – 10:17.
Pitt went 4-of-9 on third down, while Sanford went 0-of-5.
Stanford linebacker Sean Burton finished the first half with seven total tackles.
Pitt running back Darrin Hall rushed for 93 yards, which was more than his previous game in the ACC Championship.

Third Quarter Notes
Pitt outgained Stanford in total yards, 65-16.
Pitt held Stanford to zero pass yards in the third quarter.
Stanford rushed for 16 yards compared to Pitt’s 15 rushing yards.

Fourth Quarter Notes
Stanford regained the lead (14-13) with a fumble recovery touchdown by Cameron Scarlett at the 11:28 mark.
Stanford outgained Pitt in the final quarter, 107-53.
Stanford tallied 46 pass yards compared to Pitt’s 38.

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