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Thursday, October 27, 2011
The personal foul penalty

By Pedro Moura

Remember how Stanford's game-winning drive got started a year ago in Palo Alto?

The Cardinal got the ball at their own 26-yard line with 1:02 left, down 35-34 after Allen Bradford's touchdown gave the Trojans the lead. Odds of a comeback looked long as they'd have to travel 40 or 50 yards in 60 seconds to have a shot at winning the game.

Then USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo committed a key personal foul penalty on the first play of the drive, and the Cardinal were off running, starting at the 45-yard line. Five plays later and Andrew Luck and Co. were calling a timeout at the USC 13-yard line for Nate Whitaker to kick the winning 30-yard field goal.

The personal foul played a bigger role than some realized, stopping the clock and giving Stanford a huge boost. But it has been sort of selectively erased from a lot of memories of that game.

Not Galippo's, though. The redshirt senior said this week he has thought of that play many times since last October, thinking over what could have been done differently on his end and why it worked out the way it did.

"There wasn't a whistle," he said at the time. "I was trying to bring him down. I saw he was in the grasp, but he was still standing up and I knew every yard counted so I was trying to drive him back.

"At the end of the day it could have gone either way."

He says now he understands why it was called -- even if he and the rest of the Trojans didn't understand it at the time. And, although some of his teammates may have forgotten about it, he certainly hasn't.

"I know me, personally, I forgot about the ... thing until Sunday night when I went back and I was doing my film studies and I went back and watched the game," said linebackers coach Joe Barry. "I was like, Oh, gosh, I forgot about that.

"Maybe it sticks in a player's mind a little bit more, maybe he remembers -- it was an unfortunate deal, obviously -- but I don't think players really dwell on things like that."

Or maybe it's a good thing players dwell on it. Galippo hasn't committed a personal foul since, and it's clear he wants to stake his reputation to that in the future.

It's a safe bet he won't get called for a similar foul Saturday.