STANFORD Quarterback Josh Nunes picked the perfect time to play the game of his life.
Nunes directed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives Saturday as Stanford rallied for a 54-48 overtime victory over Arizona before an announced crowd of 48,204 at Stanford Stadium.
The wild game, which featured 11 lead changes, was part of a Cardinal ticket mini-plan in which participating fans will receive Andrew Luck bobbleheads.
It also came nine days after Nunes was criticized by fans and media for his performance in a loss at Washington in which Stanford failed to score an offensive touchdown.
Against that backdrop and with Stanford desperate to keep pace with Oregon in the Pacific-12 Conference North Nunes responded by completing 21 of 34 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for three scores.
"It's not what we learned (about Nunes); it's maybe what other people learned," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He's a tough kid. He bounces back. He doesn't listen to the noise."
Nunes was at his best when Stanford (4-1, 2-1) needed him most, after Arizona and its high-powered offense took a 48-34 lead with 9:13 left.
The redshirt junior calmly orchestrated a 60-yard touchdown drive that pulled the Cardinal within a touchdown with 6:34 remaining.
He then directed a 79-yard scoring drive it included a 17-yard pass to tight end Zach Ertz on fourth down that tied the score with 45 seconds left.
Both possessions ended with touchdown runs by Nunes.
"I definitely used (the Washington loss) as a steppingstone," Nunes said. "I feel like I did a better job. I made a lot of throws that I didn't make last week. It was mainly ball position, velocity just be more consistent."
Shredded for much of the game, Stanford's defense took over when overtime began. On third down, end Henry Anderson deflected quarterback Matt Scott's pass high into the air, and linebacker Chase Thomas came down with the interception at the 6-yard line.
At that point, all Stanford needed was a field goal. It got a touchdown instead as tailback Stepfan Taylor ripped through the Wildcats' exhausted defense for a 21-yard score.
The victory came on the fifth anniversary of the Cardinal's epic upset of USC and likely preserved No. 18 Stanford's streak of weeks in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (37 and counting).
"We're not a great team right now, but we're getting better," Shaw said. "And the one thing we have is guys who have won a lot of games. You can't discount that experience."
The Cardinal and Wildcats combined for 75 points after halftime and 1,234 total yards 617 by each team. Stanford used a combination of its power running game and an efficient downfield passing attack against one of the Pac-12's worst defenses.
Taylor rushed for 142 yards, and Ertz and fellow tight end Levine Toilolo combined for 11 catches for 205 yards.