Right after Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan took a knee for the final play of the 99th Rose Bowl, the redshirt freshman trotted over to an official and handed him the football.
The two exchanged a few words and then Hogan, known for his stoic on-the-field demeanor, flashed a rare but wide smile. Even he understood the magnitude of the moment.
“I asked the ref if the game was over and he said, ‘Yes, it’s over’,” Hogan explained, with the smile still plastered on his face.
The McLean native was just seven years old when Stanford played in its last Rose Bowl. Thirteen years later, he helped lead the Cardinal to its first Rose Bowl victory in 41 years as Stanford defeated Wisconsin, 20-14, on Jan.1 in Pasadena, Calif.
Hogan was one of the last players to join his teammates in singing the school’s alma mater to the contingent of Stanford fans, who were among the 93,359 people who filled the iconic stadium. The quarterback waded through a sea of reporters who anxiously tugged at his grass-stained jersey for a quote. When he finally made it through, he joined his teammates and sang. The statuesque San Gabriel Mountains provided the perfect backdrop to the end of a magical season.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Hogan of the moment. “To be on this stage, to be able to win some key games at the end of the year, and have our team come together, this just has been a lot of fun.”
After hitting his first four passes for 85 yards, Hogan and the Stanford offense started to sputter. Both teams traded punts for most of the second half. But the Gonzaga College High School graduate delivered when his team needed it most.
As Stanford held a three-point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the contest, Hogan engineered a 12-play, 66-yard drive that led to the game-clinching field goal by kicker Jordan Williamson. Hogan accounted for nearly half of Stanford’s yardage on the drive and converted a key first down on a 12-yard scamper. He missed on a throw in the end zone, but ultimately put Stanford in position to score.
“He didn’t play perfectly,” said Stanford head coach and Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw. “But he always plays so hard and his athleticism really helped us out late in the game.”
Hogan, who finished the game with 123 yards passing and 54 yards rushing, said his lone focus on the drive was to get his team into Wisconsin territory.
“I just wanted to keep moving the ball. I wasn’t even thinking about the clock,” he said. “I just wanted to keep getting the ball to the playmakers down the field. I would have liked to capitalize in the end zone, but it was nice to come away with three more points.”
Hogan was not the only Northern Virginia native who contributed to the win.
Alex Carter, Stanford’s lone true freshman starter on defense, collected seven tackles in the contest. But none were bigger than his tackle in the third quarter that thwarted a six-play Wisconsin drive that took the Badgers into Stanford territory. An elated Carter could hardly contain his excitement as he stood on the red-and-white confetti that peppered the field after the game. The cornerback soaked in the atmosphere.
“It feels great to be a part of this team and to contribute like this,” said Carter, who graduated from Briar Woods High School in Ashburn last June. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s going to take a while to wipe this grin off of my face.”
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