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After off night, teammates provide Stanford kicker a leg up

Stanford CardinalFootballOklahoma State CowboysAndrew LuckFiesta BowlPac-12 Conference

— Stanford's Jordan Williamson slouched in the chair at his locker. His shoulder pads, covered by his No. 19 jersey, tossed at his feet. He cried like a baby, which as a 19-year-old freshman kicker, is exactly what he is.

He clearly felt every ounce of the disappointment caused by his leftward kicks. Three missed field goals, including the potential game-winner in the final seconds of regulation, left him nearly disconsolate. That didn't stop his teammates from trying to console him.

"He's a human being," running back Stepfan Taylor said. "And he's our teammate. So we've got to keep him up."

Williamson had good reason to be distraught. Cardinal coach David Shaw put the fate of the Fiesta Bowl on Williamson's right foot.

After quarterback Andrew Luck marched Stanford 55 yards in less than two minutes, the Cardinal had the ball at Oklahoma State's 25-yard line with 52 seconds left and three timeouts. The game was tied at 38.

But instead of going for the touchdown, Shaw ran the ball twice to set up for a game-winning field-goal attempt. Though his kicker had already missed from 41 yards, Shaw had faith in Williamson.

And why not? Heading into Monday night's game, Williams was 12-for-15 on the year, earning second-team All-Pacific-12 honors. He was 6-for-7 on attempts between 30 and 39 yards.

But Monday night, his 35-yarder sailed wide left.

In overtime, after Stanford's opening drive stalled, Williamson had a chance at redemption. A 43-yarder would have put Stanford up by three and put the pressure back on Oklahoma State to score.

Daniel Zychlinski made the most out of a low snap, but not enough to spin the laces out of the way. Williamson hooked it left again.

"I told him to keep his head up," fullback Ryan Hewitt said. "He's still the best kicker I know."

When they got their turn, the Cowboys needed just two plays to get to the Stanford 1. That led to a 22-yard field-goal attempt for Quinn Sharp. He nailed it.

"It's not an easy feeling," Sharp said. "Everything comes down to you. You are the last one. It's on the line. And people can look at any plays throughout the game. But most of the time when a situation like that happens, they don't look at those plays. They look at it as the kicker messed up or the kicker did this. It was his fault."

One by one, Williamson's teammates came over to his locker. Senior wide receiver Chris Owusu spent extra time embracing Williamson, whispering words of encouragement into his ear.

When they weren't talking to him, Williamson's teammates were doing their best to prevent the freshman from bearing it alone.

They pointed out that games don't come down to one play. They pointed out that he's still full of potential and has years ahead of him to do great things. They even volunteered to shoulder the responsibility.

"At the end of the day, we lost," Luck said. "I'm as much to blame as the next guy."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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