Stanford’s Thomas Booker got an elbow on Cal kicker Dario Longhetto’s extra point attempt in the fourth quarter which was a crucial point attempt that ended up with Cal losing by one point at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Fri Nov 27, 2020 (photo from sfchronicle.com)
By Daniel Dullum
Stanford met the University of California for the 123rd time on Friday. The game was played at Memorial Stadium on the Cal campus with no fans in the seats. It didn’t matter as this was the Big Game. The storied rivalry between the two teams has captivated their fans for years.
Neither team had won a game this season. Each team had a game canceled due to Covid-19. The excitement was still palpable. The Bears won control of the Axe when they beat Stanford 24-20 last year. Stanford’s coach, David Shaw, improved to 9-1 against the Bears. Cal’s coach, Justin Wilcox, is now 1-3 against the Cardinal.
The game was, without question, one that either team could have won. The Bears had opportunities to win the game. They didn’t, as they made five critical mistakes that allowed Stanford to win 24-23.
The Cardinal blocked a Bear field goal attempt at the end of the first half that would have put the Bears ahead 13-10. They failed to make a fair catch. The fumble led to a Stanford score. Another fumble allowed Stanford to score their second touchdown of the game.
The Bears defense was called for a holding penalty. Stanford took advantage and put seven points on the board. The final mistake came late in the fourth quarter. The Bears started a game-tying drive from their ten-yard line. Led by quarterback Chase Grabers, the Bears marched down the field.
One of the key plays was Damian Moore’s 27-yard scamper. Grabers connected with Clark to get the ball down to Stanford’s 18-yard line. Cal running back Christopher Brown blasted through the Stanford line to get the ball inside the five-yard line. Two more plays moved the ball to the three. Brown scored to make in 24-23. Stanford then blocked the try for the extra point to destroy Cal’s hopes to tie the game and possibly win it in overtime.
In the first half, Cal’s offense scored the first touchdown of the game when Chase Grabers connected with Kekoa Crawford for the score. Cal’s defense played well in the first quarter keeping Stanford off the board.
The Bears led 7-0 after the first fifteen minutes of play. The Cardinal’s Jet Toner kicked a field goal to start the second period to make it 7-3. The Bears regained the seven-point advantage when Grabers made two great runs to get the ball into the red zone. The Bear drive stalled at the 7-yard line. Cal kicker David Longhetto made the field goal to put the Bears ahead 10-3.
Things started going south for the Bears when Remigio muffed the punt. Stanford recovered on the Bears 16-yard line. Davis Mills connected with Mike Wilson to tie the game 10-10 with 2:09 left in the first half.
The Bears mounted a drive that got them to the Cardinal 15-yard line with just eight seconds left. Stanford was guilty of pass interference on the play. Grabers pass into the end zone was incomplete. Stanford blocked the Bear’s field goal try. The half ended tied 10-10.
Davis Mills was 13 for 17, good for 104 yards and one touchdown. Austin Jones had five carries for just twelve yards. Mike Wilson caught five passes for 55 yards and one touchdown. Chase Grabers was 12 for 15 for 98 yards and a touchdown. He led the Bears in rushing with five carries for 32 yards.
Stanford took the lead for the first time in the third quarter. The Bears fumble, recovered by Stanford on Cal’s 40-yard line, allowed Stanford to put more points on the board. Mills’ pass to Wilson took Stanford inside the ten-yard line.
Jones took the ball to the three and then to the house to give Stanford a 17-10 lead. Cal stormed back to tie the game. Running back Damien Moore ripped off a 54-yard run. Grabers connected with Nikko Remigio for the score to tie the game 17-17.
Mills was taking the Cardinal downfield once again. It looked like the Bears had stopped the Cardinal drive when the Cal defense intercepted Mills’ pass. The referees called a holding penalty, and Stanford retained control of the ball. The Cardinal took the ball down to the Bears’ eight-yard line. Austin Jones rammed his way into the end zone for the tally. 24-17 Stanford advantage.
The Bears started the tying drive on their ten-yard line. They marched down the field for the score. With 62 seconds left in the game, Christopher Brown scored. All Cal had to do was make the extra point, and the game would be tied.
Cal coach Justin Wilcox had an option. He could have asked his team to go for a two-point conversion. If Cal made it, they would have won. Wilcox went for the safer option. Make the extra point, and Cal will take its chances in overtime. Stanford’s defense rose to the occasion and blocked the kick. Stanford won and reclaimed the Axe.
Game stats- Davis Mills was 24 for 32, good for 205 yards and one TD. Grabers was 19 for 29 for 151 yards and two TDs. Austin Jones had 18 carries for 72 yards and two TDs/ Cal’s Damien Moore rushed ten times for 121 yards. Mike Wilson had seven catches for 88 yards and one TD. Kekoa Crawford had five receptions for 52 yards and one TD.
Total Yards- Stanford 289- Cal 392
Time of possession-Stanford 33:15- Cal 22:17
Turnovers- Stanford 0- Cal two
First downs-Stanford 15-Cal 20
Penalties-Cal six for 75 yards- Stanford on for 10 yards.
Stanford goes to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies on December 5th. Cal hosts the University of Oregon.