PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Stanford's Ty Montgomery produced three big plays to put No. 5 Stanford in position to win, and Washington quarterback Keith Price led a rally in the final three minutes that gave the Huskies a chance to pull it out at the end.
Ultimately, however, it was a ruling by a replay official that was the deciding moment in Stanford's 31-28 victory over No. 15 Washington on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium.
Montgomery returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for Stanford's first touchdown, caught a 39-yard pass for its second touchdown and returned a kickoff 72 yards to set up the Cardinal's fourth touchdown.
That gave Stanford a 31-21 lead, and when A.J. Tarpley intercepted a tipped Price pass with 6:11 to go, the Cardinal (5-0) seemed safe.
But Washington (4-1) cut the Stanford lead to 31-28 with 2:38 left on a 79-yard scoring drive, and the Huskies forced Stanford to punt with 1:51 to go.
Then, on a fourth-and-10 play from the Stanford 49-yard line, Price avoided a pass rush, scrambled around and eventually hit Kevin Smith for 16 yards to the Cardinal 33-yard line with 1:16 left. The play was ruled a catch on the field, but after a review the call was reversed when it was determined the ball hit the ground as Smith attempted a diving catch.
"It's unfortunate the game had to come down to a judgment call," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "It's unfortunate it was decided by someone up in the booth that didn't get to feel the emotion on the field."
Sarkisian watched the replay on the giant screen in the stadium, and he was not convinced the correct decision was made.
"From my vantage point, it looked like it was pretty hard to overturn it," he said.
Stanford coach David Shaw had a different perspective.
"While watching on the field, I didn't see it hit the ground," he said, "but from the view upstairs they said it bounced off his chest and hit the ground."
Stanford (5-0) could let out a sigh of relief when the ruling went its way after a lengthy wait.
"It was a little nervous," Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov said. "But it was really out of our control. We were ready to go out there again."
Instead, they only needed to run out the clock, leaving Montgomery as the star.
"Ty was the difference in the ballgame," Shaw said.
Montgomery finished with 204 all-purpose yards, although he was reluctant to declare it the best game of his career.
"I guess (it was)," he said. "I'm not really thinking about that. "I'm just glad we're 5-0."
Price nearly displaced Montgomery as the game's star with his performance. Price went 33-for-48 for 350 yards, two touchdowns and an interception as well as leading the late rally.
"I thought he was an absolute stud tonight," Sarkisian said.
He outplayed Stanford's Kevin Hogan, who was 12-for-20 for 120 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Huskies outgained the Cardinal by a sizable 489-284 margin and had 30 first downs to Stanford's 14, but the Cardinal got the big plays out of Montgomery on special teams.
Montgomery provided two plays that enabled Stanford to take a 17-7 lead at halftime. He ran the opening kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown and later caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Hogan with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.
Bishop Sankey, who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher, had 125 yards on 27 carries, and his 15-yard touchdown run with 2:26 left in the third quarter cut the Stanford lead to 24-21.
Montgomery responded with a 72-yard kickoff return that led to Tyler Gaffney's 11-yard scoring run and a 31-21 Stanford lead, which was just enough.
"We have to be able to handle the adversity of a tough loss like this," Sarkisian said.