PROVO — Just how big was Stanford's 18-14 victory over BYU Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium?
Consider that the Cardinal, now 2-0, have already equaled their win total from last year's 2-9 season. And consider that besides a 2001 victory against San Jose State, the Cardinal had not won a nonconference road game in seven-plus seasons — ever since a 1995 victory in Salt Lake City against the University of Utah.
"It's certainly important," said second-year head coach Buddy Teevens outside a jubilant Stanford locker room. "It's festive inside, the guys are excited. But they're also determined. There's more we can do — we can play harder, play better, play longer. But it's a nice step for us."
A nice step despite an offense that managed only 200 yards total and riding the first-start fortunes of redshirt freshman quarterback — Trent Edwards — who completed 10-of-23 yards for just 25 yards and suffered two interceptions. In fact, wide-out Luke Powell outpassed Edwards, completing his one pass attempt for a 31-yard gain on a Cardinal trick play.
The combined 56 passing yards is a school-record low for aerial yardage.
"Against a tough defense, I thought he did what we asked him to do," said Teevens of Edwards. "They (the Cougars) are a tough team to throw against, with an awful lot of pressure."
Edwards did score the game-winning touchdown on a drive that started on the BYU 25 with under four minutes to play, thanks to Oshiomogho Atogwe's second interception of BYU quarterback John Beck. On his 14-yard TD run, Edwards faked a handoff to the left and bootlegged his way to the right corner of the end zone, giving the Cardinal an 18-14 lead that the Stanford defense would preserve through the remainder of the game.
"It was the right time, the right place and a nice result," said Teevens of Edwards' run.
Running back Kenneth Tolon carried the brunt of the Cardinal offense, rushing 32 times for a steady 141 yards and a touchdown behind a young offensive line that features a trio of underclassmen.
The anchor of the Cardinal line is senior tackle Kirk Chambers, the Provo High grad who has started every game he's played in four seasons at Stanford. Included in the Cardinal crowd was nearly 50 family members and friends, most wearing red shirts that read "Chambers 67 Stanford."
"It's a dream come true, to come here and have your teammates pull together like that," said Chambers on his triumphant return to Provo. "That wasn't just one effort out there, that was our whole team working together."
About the only thing that would have topped the game off for the 6-foot-7, 315-pounder would have been to actually catch the tackle-eligible pass thrown him early in the third quarter. On second-and-10 from the BYU 17, Chambers was open on the left flat with blockers in front, but Edwards' pass was above his reach.
"I was so excited when they called it," he said, admitting that the offense had practiced the play all week to use in Chambers' homecoming game. "They (the Cougars) had some pressure, so he (Edwards) had to give it a little more air, and I couldn't quite jump up and catch it."
The Cardinal defense, which entered the game as the nation's leading rushing defense after limited San Jose State to just nine yards net on the ground in its 31-10 season-opening victory, outdid itself against a weak Cougar rushing attack. The BYU ground game finished in the hole, with the minus-five net yards the fourth-lowest totaled allowed in Stanford history.