Led by running backs J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch, and an offensive line that blew Stanford defenders off the ball, the Bears dominated play down the stretch. In the second stanza, Bear ball carriers combined for 233 yards after a 96-yard performance in the first half.
By controlling the game on the ground, Cal was able to pass more effectively. In the second half, the Bears were 8-9 for 105 yards (11.7 yards/attempt) versus 6-8 in the first half for 62 yards (7.8 yards/attempt).
This second half turnaround was keyed by the Bear’s ability to make adjustments. At halftime, the coaching staff went through the playbook and, as Coach Tedford related after the game, “found a couple of run schemes … and the backs did a great job of running through them.”
From the very beginning of the season, we have seen Coach Tedford’s staff repeatedly make key modifications at halftime. The Bears 198-37 cumulative scoring advantage in the second half of games played this season is a testimonial to the effectiveness of their efforts.
The 107th Big Game started off slowly with both teams playing rather tentatively. Cal’s first possession ended on a fumble by Arrington. On Cal’s second possession, the Bears failed to notch a first down and David Lonie punted the ball only four yards. Meanwhile the Cardinal failed to take advantage of these gaffes by the Bears. Finally, on Cal’s third opportunity, they struck paydirt. Following a beautiful 51 yard punt return by Tim Mixon, Aaron Rodgers hit Robert Jordan in the end zone on a post route for the first score of the game. It was reminiscent of a touchdown pass from Jim Plunkett to Randy Vataha in the 1970 Big Game.
For the remainder of the first half, the Bears were inconsistent. For example, on the next series of plays, the Bears mixed five runs of four or fewer yards with two of more than ten. Following this drive, Cal went three and out on consecutive series. On the Bears’ last two possessions of the half, they netted three first downs and no points.
Fortunately, the defense played exceptionally well, holding Stanford to three points on only four first downs. The key to the Bear’s defensive attack was their ability to bottle up the Cardinal rushers and put pressure on redshirt freshman QB T.C. Ostrander. In the first half, Stanford rushed only for 67 yards. The Cardinal OL surrendered three sacks (Joe Maningo, Lorenzo Alexander and Ryan Riddle) with Maningo’s resulting in a lost fumble.
Following a great halftime show by the Cal band (and another tedious performance by the ragtag embarrassment in red), the second half opened with a three and out by Stanford. Following a Stanford punt, the Bears took over on their own 19-yard line. After receiving Aaron Rodgers’ first pass of the half, Robert Jordan collided helmet to helmet with Stanford’s Jon Alston. It was a frightening collision that left Alston on the ground for an extended period of time. Once play resumed, the Bears marched down the field, aided by two personal fouls on the Cardinal’s Stanley Wilson and Leigh Torrance. After a bogus offensive pass interference call on Arrington halted the Bear drive, Tom Schneider booted a 28-yard field goal.
The next Cal series featured the game’s signature play, a 55-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. The true freshman from Oakland started to the right, moved left to clear some underbrush, then put a move on Wilson that froze the Cardinal defender, and then !! crossed the field to the right behind blocks by Aaron Rodgers and Burl Toler to get into the corner of the end zone. Thank you for joining us at The Big Game, Marshawn!
Then it was mop up time with a hand full of highlights, including a halfback pass from Lynch to senior Burl Toler III (a wonderful way for the second generation Bear to end his Memorial Stadium career); three sacks by a pair of gifted seniors D-Liners Tom Sverchek (2) and Ryan Riddle (1); a touchdown run by senior Reggie Robertson (an invaluable member of the team for the last four years – he left an indelible mark on the Cal program with his relief effort v. USC in 2003); a three yard reception by senior Geoff MacArthur that established a new Cal record for career receptions (G-Mac’s senior leadership will be sorely missed when the Bears take the field at Memorial in 2005) and senior J.J. Arrington’s relentless drive to increase his record breaking rushing total (he broke Chuck Muncie’s single season rushing record late in the first half).
Of course, there were lowlights as well. Sadly, the Stanford football program has sunk to new lows under Coach E.F. Teevens. It is one thing to lose with dignity, it is another to put on a classless performance. Torrance’s blatantly unapologetic hit on Tim Mixon as Mixon waited to field a punt was contemptible. Such hits and generally, “chippy” play by Stanford signaled an undisciplined program lurching out of control. All true fans of the game of football can hope that the LSJU administrators will come to their senses and terminate Teevens’ contract after this disgraceful display of “football”.
Marshawn Lynch ran for more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week. Bear fans have a lot to look forward to as Lynch’s role in the offense expands in the coming weeks and years.
Robert Jordan made a beautiful catch and held the ball after a hellacious hit by the Stanford defender on his TD grab in the first half. It was good to see RJ return to the game later after his collision with Alston.
J.J. Arrington’s 169 yards on 27 carries gave him a commanding lead in the race for the Pac-10 rushing title. If he succeeds, he will become the first Bear since Joe Kapp to lead the conference in rushing.
Bear corners Donte Hughes, Harrison Smith and Tim Mixon combined for eight pass break-ups, a high for the season. Their close coverage technique on the taller Cardinal pass receivers was impressive.
Wendell Hunter recovered one fumble and tallied a pass break-up. The senior from the Southland has been a force on defense throughout his career.
The D-Line – Riddle, Alexander, Brandon Mebane, and Tom Svercheck accounted for twelve tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and countless “hurries”. Entering the season there were many questions about the defense, principally “Can the D-Line put pressure on the opposition’s quarterback, or will support be required from linebackers and safties?”
We now know the D-Line met and exceeded this challenge! Why to go, guys!
BEAR SPECIAL TEAMS
The highlight was a breakout perfect game by Tom Schneider. Patience by the coaching staff has paid off as Schneider nailed two field-goals and hit all five PAT attempts. This bodes very well for the next three years that Tom will be with the team.
David Lonie struggled uncharacteristically in his first Big Game. Fortunately, his punting woes did not cost the Bears.
Tim Mixon’s 51-yard punt return set up Cal’s first TD. As noted earlier, Mixon was also involved in the most controversial play in the game when he was hit early while waiting to field a punt.
This week, a game ball was awarded to each of the 29 Cal seniors who stepped off the hallowed Memorial Stadium turf for the final time in their careers at Berkeley.
From the near-hell of the 2001 winless home campaign to the glory of an undefeated home season in 2004, most members of this senior class have seen it all. To all of them, as well as the JC transfers who joined along the way, here is a hearty “Hail to California” to the entire group.
|Lorenzo Alexander||J.J. Arrington||Francis Blay-Miezah||J.D. Cafaro|
|Joe Crenshaw||Garett Cross||Matt Currin||Lucas Everett|
|Jonathan Geisel||Matt Giordano||Ryan Gutierrez||Wendell Hunter|
|Derek Joyce||L.P. Ladoceur||Chase Lyman||Jonathan Makonnen|
|Joe Maningo||Geoff MacArthur||Tag McCurdy||Mike McGrath|
|Randall Perkins||Ryan Riddle||Reggie Robertson||Sid Slater|
|Tom Sverchek||Ray Tago||Burl Toler||Brian Tremblay|
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