Pac-12: Cyhl Quarles
September, 15, 2009
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh is still stewing about the officiating at Wake Forest, most particularly a clipping penalty that nullified a 39-yard Toby Gerhart run that would have given the Cardinal a first-down inside the Demon Deacons 20-yard line with five minutes left in a 17-17 game.
Instead, Stanford failed to convert on a third-and-9 from its 38 after the flag, and Wake took the ball and drove for the winning score in its 24-17 victory.
While Harbaugh, whose team plays host to San Jose State on Saturday, isn't planning a formal protest to the ACC, he's not hiding his feelings.
"It was, in our opinion, a ridiculous call -- one of the worst I've ever seen," he said. "But we have moved on. We're not blaming the game on that. We've got some problems to fix."
The play in question is curious in more ways than one.
First, the referee didn't call out the number of the player who allegedly committed the infraction, but based on the way the penalty was marked off, guard Chris Marinelli was flagged for clipping Wake linebacker Joey Ehrmann.
Video replays show that was a bad call.
A better case for a block in the back, however, can be made for guard David DeCastro diving at -- and just nicking -- the feet of strong safety Cyhl Quarles as Gerhart raced into the secondary.
Harbaugh was steamed with the officiating for other reasons.
"I learned about midway through the third quarter when I was trying to call a timeout that they wouldn't give me that they didn't even know I was the head coach," he said. "So I guess there was some communication breakdown there."
Stanford also had a touchdown pass killed by a holding penalty in the first half, but it ended up scoring a TD anyway. Wake benefited from a dubious pass interference penalty, but the drive resulted in no points.
And Wake overcame a holding penalty to score its first touchdown.
Stanford was flagged six times for 55 yards. Wake three times for 20.
It certainly wasn't all about a couple of calls.
The Stanford defense couldn't get a stop in the second half while a 17-3 halftime lead evaporated. The Demon Deacons converted 7 of 11 third-down plays in the second half -- and were 2-for-2 on fourth down -- while the Cardinal went 0-4 on third down. Wake outgained Stanford 311 yards to 111 in the second half.
Wake's offense seemed faster than the Stanford defense, particularly on the perimeter.
"We need to do a better job running to the ball -- that's a factor," Harbaugh said.
Stanford had a lot of success with its power running game in the first half, but Gerhart only got six carries in the second half. While redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck has dramatically improved the passing attack, Gerhart is still Sanford's money player.
Harbaugh seemed to rue Gerhart's lack of touches, but he blamed a lack of overall plays. And, er, flags.
"Six carries out of 17 plays we had offensively," Harbaugh said. "We could have done a better job picking up third downs. There were some issues there. We'd get into third-and-short, third-and-2, third-and-5, and pick it up. And then the flag would come out 10 yards into the run and now we're third and 12. It made it more difficult to pick up those third downs and keep drives alive."