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For the Record, It Was a Catch : College football: Those closest to it still weren't sure after Cline's disputed reception lifted Stanford over Colorado.

September 20, 1993|From Associated Press

PALO ALTO — Was it a catch or wasn't it? Even the Colorado player who tried to break up Stanford's controversial winning touchdown wasn't sure.

But the folks who count--the officials--ruled that Tony Cline had possession of a five-yard pass in the end zone before Dwayne Davis' hit caused a fumble. The touchdown with eight seconds to play gave Stanford a 41-37 victory Saturday night.

"I really didn't see it," said Davis, who hit Cline almost immediately after he caught theball.

"I just kind of closed my eyes and hit him hard as I could and hoped I could knock the ball loose. The officials called it no fumble, so I guess it was no fumble."

Said Cline: "I think my feet hit the ground before I fumbled it. The officials agreed with me, and that's what counts."

Steve Stenstrom, who passed for five touchdowns, was positive his tight end caught the ball.

"They came with a blitz on the weak side, so I knew they'd be in my face really fast," said Stenstrom, who completed 30 of 42 passes for a career-best 382 yards. "Cline was open, and I was hit as I threw, but I saw him catch it. There was no doubt it was a catch."

Colorado Coach Bill McCartney said his players thought the catch was no good, but he didn't dispute the final result.

"I have no complaints with the officials," he said.

With the victory, Stanford moved up three spots in the Associated Press poll to No. 17 as it prepared for its game Saturday against UCLA. Colorado, ranked seventh last week, fell to 13th.

After trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, Stanford rallied by scoring twice during the final four minutes.

The Cardinal showed it had some life left when wide receiver Justin Armour took a short pass from Stenstrom, then lateraled the ball to David Shaw for a 17-yard gain.

On the next play, Stenstrom hit Armour with a 38-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Buffaloes' lead to 37-34 with 3:33 to play.

Armour's touchdown "was a huge lift," Cardinal linebacker Nick Watts said. "Before, we hadn't been playing with a lot of emotion, and that gave us a different outlook. For a long while we hadn't been executing on defense."

After that, the Cardinal denied the Buffaloes a first down and forced them to punt from their own 19-yard line.

"Our defense put a stop on them like I've never seen before," Armour said. "That was just huge by the defense."

Stanford took over at the Colorado 46. The running game, dormant all night, suddenly clicked. Ethan Allen started the drive with a 19-yard run, and Ellery Roberts ran for 15 more yards, setting up the pass to Cline.

"We had the game in our hip pocket and we let it get away and that's the thing that's the most disappointing and frustrating," McCartney said. "We had control of the game and we were doing everything we wanted on offense."

Colorado, which had beaten its two previous opponents--both ranked teams--by an average of more than 21 points, struggled early and fell behind 21-10 in the second quarter.

The Buffaloes rolled up 551 yards against a Cardinal defense that had surrendered 1,093 in its previous two contests. But Kordell Stewart completed just 13 of 30 passes for 277 yards and an interception.

He did better running the option in the second half. His four-yard run in the fourth quarter gave the Buffaloes a 37-27 advantage after taking their first lead of the game late in the third period.

"I didn't play to my capabilities, but we still should have won," Stewart said.

While Stewart's performance was below par, Stenstrom had his best game as a Cardinal. He completed 30 of 42 passes for 382 yards. The completions and yardage were career bests for the senior.

"It was just a great job by Steve Stenstrom," Stanford coach Bill Walsh said. "You can't ask for a better performance by a quarterback."

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