Berkeley, CA – The Stanford Cardinal (8-4,6-3) took down the Cal Golden Bears (7-5,5-4) in California Memorial Stadium on Saturday, pulling out the win in the 121st Big Game rivalry match-up between the two Bay Area schools.
Cal entered the game coming off two consecutive victories over USC and Colorado in which they relied heavily on their defense to make-up for sputtering offensive play.
The Bears’ offensive struggles showed themselves again early in this one, allowing the Cardinal to jump out to a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter following the first of three made field goals from kicker Jet Toner (26), and a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback K.J. Costello (3) to running back Cameron Scarlett (22).
In all, the Bears failed to eclipse 50 yards from scrimmage in the first, to Stanford’s 164 yards in the quarter.
The Cal defense found their footing in the second, forcing three Stanford punts in the quarter and holding the Cardinal out of the end zone. The defense’s stout play allowed the Bears offense opportunities to get in more of a rhythm, leading to two made field goals from kicker Greg Thomas (39) to bring the score to 13-6 for Stanford heading into the half.
Though both offenses moved the ball more efficiently in the third quarter, neither could capitalize for points.
Fourth-quarter mistakes would prove to be the difference in this one, with Stanford capitalizing on the momentum generated by a costly roughing the passer penalty, extending the Cardinal’s penultimate drive, as well as two interceptions, the latter of which was returned 30 yards by corner Paulson Adebo (11) to give Stanford the ball inside the Cal five-yard line.
On the next play, Scarlett would provide the dagger for Stanford with his second score on the day, this one a three-yard rush that put the Cardinal up ten points with less than four minutes remaining.
Costello and the Stanford passing game were highly efficient, tallying nearly 240 yards and a score on 18-of-29 attempts. Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (19) lead both teams in receiving with 109 yards on five catches.
For Cal, quarterback Chase Garbers finished with 197 yards through the air on 22-of-39 tries with two interceptions and one touchdown, along with 44 net rushing yards on 12 carries.
The Bears’ senior running back Patrick Laird (28) lead the way rushing the ball with 116 yards on 19 carries, while Stanford’s standout back Bryce Love (20) lead the Cardinal with 77 yards rushing on 22 carries before being forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a lower-body injury.
Stanford pushes their Big Game win-streak to nine straight with the victory, dating back to Cal’s last victory over the Cardinal in 2009.
Both teams will await tomorrow’s Bowl Schedule release, before beginning preparation for their respective postseason match-ups.
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox alluded to the fact that his team might need some time to get their heads straight after the loss but said they looked forward to the next opportunity to play and improve.
“It hurts really bad, and it hurts because we had chances. They know we had opportunities and that stings,” he said after the game. “But not all is lost. We get to play again.”