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Santa Clara opened up their D1-AA season with an impressive 38-12 defeat of Stanford University Friday night in Santa Clara.

The Broncos, playing their first home night game as part of Bronco Pride Week, weathered an early charge by the Cardinal and ran away with it late.

The game was affected somewhat by a slew of cards handed out by referee JC Van Staden, who flashed yellow to Stanford three times, and Santa Clara twice. One Stanford player was yellow carded, came back on, was warned about high tackles, and his response was considered disrespectful, so he was sent off for the rest of the game. Stanford played short-handed for about 70 minutes.

Still, the Cardinal scored first, and early in the second half were within seven at 19-12.

“The adrenaline got to us a little but,” said Santa Clara club president Ryan Falvey. “But after that we settled into our pattern, and it was our pattern of play that won it for us.”

“Santa Clara were more urgent and aggressive in transitional play,” added Stanford Coach Matt Sherman. “We didn’t have the same urgency.”

The Broncos set a strong platform in the set pieces, and their rucking was hard-nosed, producing turnovers that their backs, led by inside center Nick Johnson, punished.

One area of concern for Santa Clara has been goalkicking. In their last game they lose 41-30 to Cal Poly, scoring six tries but missing all their conversions. The team made the switch to wing Teddy Mefford, and he was 4/5 on the evening.

“We were extremely happy with our forward play,” said Falvey. “We played well as a unit. I am proud of our defense, too.”

For Sherman, there’s much work to do at Stanford.

“We have a young team with a lot of potential,” he said. “We just have to learn from this and keep moving forward.”