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College Football: Daniels leads Stanford to season opener victory 37-24 over Hawaii

The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 37-24 in new Stanford head coach Troy Taylor’s debut.

Taylor previously served as the head coach for the Sacramento State Hornets for four seasons (’19-’22), where he led the Hornets to their first undefeated season in school history in 2022 and three Big Sky conference titles, respectively.

Stanford was led by sophomore quarterback Ashton Daniels, who made his first career start in the matchup and had 249 passing yards along with 2 passing touchdowns while completing 69 percent of his passes on the night. On the ground, senior halfback Casey Filkins led the way with 67 rushing yards and an average of 11.2 yards per carry. Running backs senior E.J Smith and senior Bryce Farrell each added a touchdown in the affair. Senior tight end Benjamin Yurosek led the pass catching room with 9 receptions for 138 reception yards and a touchdown. Senior wideout John Humphreys added 3 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinal offense rushing attack was prolific from start to finish.

Image of Stanford Quarterback Ashton Daniels. Image courtesy of Stanford

Hawaii (0-2) was coming off a loss to SEC’s Vanderbilt the week prior and was hoping to get their first win on the year with junior quarterback Brayden Schager. The Hawaii quarterback tossed for 355 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns on 53 passing attempts. The Rainbow Warrior rushing attack was non-existent, as the team rushed for -0.3 yards per attempt. In fact, their leading rusher was sophomore halfback Tylan Hines, who accumulated only 5 rushing yards on 5 attempts, respectively.

Through the air, Schager connected on passes with 11 different pass catchers including freshman wideout Pofele Ashlock. Ashlock led the wideout room with 8 receptions for 114 yards and 2 touchdown receptions. Senior wide receiver Steven McBride contributed a touchdown along with 3 receptions for 40 yards (13.3 yards per catch).

Hawaii’s offense trotted out on the field first and went on a quick 3 and out. Schager had a couple of misfires and didn’t look comfortable in the pocket. Stanford’s offense also went on a 3 and out after Daniels failed to connect on all three pass plays.

After the Rainbow Warriors went on another stagnant drive, Daniels led the Stanford offense on a 12-play 72-yard drive that was capped off with a rushing touchdown by Smith. Daniels extended plays using his legs and displayed a strong command of the offense. The Cardinal led 7-0 at the 7:25 mark in the first quarter.

Hawaii tried to establish the run on their next drive, but the Stanford defensive front held strong which led to another 3 and out for the Rainbow Warriors. After a 3 and out on the Cardinal offense ensuing possession, Schager led the Hawaii offense on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ashlock. Schager rushed for 21 yards to convert a 3rd and long situation and looked more poised. The game was tied 7-7 at the 14:11 mark of the 2nd quarter.

Daniels and the offense answered by going on a 5-play, 75-yard proficient drive downfield that was capped off with a 32-yard touchdown reception by Yurosek. Yurosek had 113 reception yards in the first half. Stanford had a 14-7 lead at the 12:24 mark in the 2nd quarter.

The Rainbow Warriors didn’t move the chains on their next drive, but the Cardinal offense did as they went on an 11-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Farrell. Daniels and the offense implemented play-action passes and quarterback-designed runs since the Hawaii defense was struggling to stop the Cardinal rushing attack. The Cardinal led 21-7 at the 4:30 mark in the 2nd quarter.

After uneventful drives by both teams, Hawaii scored a field goal to make the score 21-10 going into halftime. Schager and the offense went on a 9-play, 65-yard drive that put senior kicker Matt Shipley in place to make a 33-yard field goal attempt. Hawaii racked up only 12 rushing yards in the first half.

Stanford’s offense kicked off the 3rd quarter and their rushing attack continued to be effective. The drive featured a 47-yard run by Filkins that put the Cardinal offense in striking distance. The Hawaii defense surprisingly held up which led to a successful 25-yard field goal attempt by senior kicker Joshua Karty that extended the Stanford lead 24-10 at the 11:07 mark in the third quarter.

Schager and the Hawaii offense came out firing on all cylinders in their first possession of the second half. Schager connected on a 38-yard pass to Ashlock as the offense made it’s way into striking distance. Hawaii was met with a critical 4th and 3 at the Stanford 10-yard line and instead of kicking the field goal, they decided to try and convert but failed.

The Cardinal offense started their next drive at their own 17-yard line, and proceeded to go on a 13-play, 74-yard drive and got within the Rainbow Warriors 15-yard line. The Hawaii defense halted the prolific Stanford offense as they settled for a 25-yard field goal attempt that extended the Stanford lead 27-10 with 1:35 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

At this juncture of the game, Schager looked more confident as ever as he led the Hawaii offense on a 5-play 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 24-yard touchdown pass to McBride. Hawaii cut the lead Stanford lead to 27-16 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt.

Hawaii needed a stop on defense desperately as timed waned in the 4th quarter. Daniels and the Stanford offense were faced with a 3rd and 15 and didn’t convert, but a roughing the passer penalty was called on the Hawaii defense which extended the Cardinal drive. Stanford was met with another 3rd and long situation and failed to move the chains, but a defensive pass interference was called in the secondary, thus, continuing the Cardinal offensive possession. The Hawaii defense committed bad penalties that could’ve swung the momentum in their favor. The Stanford offense ended the drive with a successful field goal attempt to make the score 30-16 with 9:21 remaining in the game.

The Hawaii offense failed to muster any points on their next drive, but the Stanford offense extended their lead on their next possession by going on a 3-play, 31-yard drive that concluded with a 13-yard touchdown reception by Humphreys from Daniels that effectively sealed the game. The Cardinal led 37-16 at the 5:30 mark in the 4th quarter.

The Rainbow Warrior offense still showed determination and grit despite the score, as they went on a 15-play, 64-yard drive that featured a 16-yard touchdown reception to Ashlock from Schager. Hawaii successfully scored the two-point conversion which made the score 37-24 with 1:08 remaining.

Hawaii attempted an onside kick to get the ball back, but to no avail, the ball went out of bounds and Stanford kneeled to close out the game.

Quick Analysis

The Rainbow Warriors’ ground game accumulated negative five yards on 16 rushes as a team. Hawaii had no choice but to lean on the arm of Schager, which proved to be too much for the junior quarterback to handle. The Hawaii defense made timely defensive stops but committed airheaded penalties that could’ve changed the trajectory of the game.

Daniels looked sharp in his first collegiate start. He used his athleticism to extend plays whether it was for a shot downfield or for a short yardage situation to move the chains using his legs. It was evident Taylor has full belief in his young quarterback.

Stanford (1-0) will travel to do battle against Caleb Williams and USC (Sep 9) while Hawaii (0-2) will stay home to face Albany (Sep 10).

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