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No. 18 Stanford rallies past Arizona 54-48 in OT

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No. 18 Stanford rallies past Arizona 54-48 in OT

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Josh Nunes bailed out Stanford's defense for a change and started to erase doubts about whether he's the right man to replace Andrew Luck after all.

Nunes threw for a career-high 360 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three more scores, rallying No. 18 Stanford from a two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona 54-48 in overtime Saturday.

Chase Thomas intercepted a tipped pass by Matt Scott in the extra period and Stepfan Taylor ran for a 21-yard touchdown two plays later to end a week of second-guessing Nunes with a wild celebration in the Cardinal (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) side of the north end zone.

``This is the kind of game that we needed,'' Stanford coach David Shaw said. ``We needed to fight. We needed to battle. We needed to be into it in the fourth quarter. We needed to be down. We needed to fight back, just to test our character. We believe that we have that kind of character to be able to fight back even when we're down, but it's great when you get tested and respond to that challenge.''

Maybe for nobody more than Nunes.

The offense failed to find the end zone in a 17-13 loss at Washington last week. Nunes underthrew several passes or misfired completely, and critics began to mount enough for Shaw to open his weekly news conference defending his new quarterback and boldly calling any question about a change ``asinine.''

Nunes followed his coach's words with his most solid game of the season. He completed 21 of 34 passes, scrambled for first downs and - most importantly - offset Scott's record-setting performance.

Scott completed 45 of 69 passes - both school records - for 491 yards and three touchdowns until Henry Anderson tipped his final pass in overtime that Thomas intercepted. Arizona (3-3, 0-3) amassed 617 total yards - same as Stanford - but lost for the third straight game and is still winless in conference play.

``It's depressing not to win, but that's football,'' Scott said.

For most of the afternoon, the Wildcats scored at will and looked more like the team that beat Oklahoma State to start 3-0 than the one that lost to Oregon and Oregon State the previous two weeks. Facing its third straight ranked opponent, Arizona's aerial attack shredded Stanford's defense in a way few have the past few seasons.

The Wildcats became the first team to eclipse 400 yards passing against the Cardinal since Oklahoma in the 2009 Sun Bowl. The Sooners threw for 418 yards in that 31-27 win over the Cardinal.

Arizona's defense couldn't hold up when it counted.

Nunes ran his second short touchdown to trim Arizona's lead to 48-41 with 6:34 remaining. The Cardinal held the Wildcats to only their third three-and-out on the next possession, and Nunes led a drive that will help ease concerns about Luck's successor.

The redshirt junior ran for 16 yards on third-and-7 from midfield, threw 17 yards to tight end Zach Ertz on fourth-and-9 from Arizona's 20 and ran for the tying touchdown with 45 seconds left in regulation.

``I made a lot of throws this week that I didn't make last week,'' said Nunes, adding that he worked on improving his velocity. ``It's not like I can't make these throws.''

This time, Stanford's offense showed some fight from the start.

Taylor, who finished with 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns, ran for 35 yards on seven carries before Nunes lofted an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ertz in the corner of the end zone to give the Cardinal a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession.

While the offense finally found its rhythm, Stanford's defense struggled to slow down Arizona's up-tempo style.

Ka'Deem Carey ran for 13 yards for the first of his three touchdowns, and John Bonano kicked a 34-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 10-7 lead later in the second quarter.

Nunes stayed steady and sharp, finding Levine Toilolo for a 12-yard touchdown pass to put Stanford back ahead 14-10. Bonano kicked a 33-yard field goal to slice Stanford's lead to 14-13 at half.

The pace picked up even more following the break.

Scott threaded a 27-yard strike to Terrence Miller inches short of the goal line that set up Carey's short touchdown run to put Arizona in front 20-14 less than 2 minutes into the third quarter.

Although the Cardinal prefer to play grind-it-out games and control the clock, Arizona simply wouldn't let them.

The teams traded touchdowns for most of the second half until Jourdon Grandon stripped Ty Montgomery after a 16-yard catch early in the fourth quarter. Arizona recovered and took over at Stanford's 45.

Scott quickly led the offense down field and hooked up with Miller for a 10-yard completion that gave the Wildcats a 48-34 lead - the biggest either side had all afternoon. Scott nearly set the school passing record set by Willie Tuitama, who threw for a school-record 510 yards in a 48-41 win over Washington on Oct. 27, 2007.

Rodriguez opted to run the clock out with 45 seconds remaining from Arizona's own 19 with two timeouts and play for overtime, saying he ``didn't want to make a mistake down there.''

``Matt is a stud. He threw the ball well. We just needed to make one more play,'' Rodriguez said. ``There's nothing to be ashamed of.''

The Cardinal again showed its ability to bounce back after defeat.

Stanford has won after its last seven losses. The last time the Cardinal dropped consecutive games came in 2009, when it lost to Oregon State on Oct. 10 and Arizona on Oct. 17.

``It's huge,'' Thomas said. ``To show that we can face adversity, overcome it and have that 16-round knockout fight really shows that this team's a high-character team that never gives up and has a never-quit mentality.''

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: