Stanford Sloppy but Keeps the Axe

Stanford plays one of the weakest Cal teams in modern history, and puts up close to 600 yards of offense in to cap off one of its top Pac-10 seasons. Sounds like a Big Game blowout? Hardly. This one went down to the wire, with twists and turns throughout. YCF is here with the blow-by-blow set of events as the 104th Big Game played out.

Usually I am in a state of euphoria right after winning the Big Game.  However, this year, I am more relieved than anything else.  0-9 Cal would not go away and actually had a chance to force overtime late in the game.  Stanford had 90 penalty yards compared to the Bears' 51.  Also, Stanford gave the ball away five times yet pulled off the victory - for the second time this year.  

Stanford drew first blood 10:29 into the game.  Facing 3rd and 8 at the Cal 29, Luke Powell (in double coverage) pulled in Chris Lewis' pass in the endzone to give Stanford a 7-0 lead.  After forcing a three and out, Stanford took possession at their 35.  However, on the next play, Brian Allen fumbled the ball.  Mark-Christian Jensen was good from 43 yards out to make the score 7-3.  On the Cardinal's next drive, Chris Lewis threw an ill-advised pass which was picked off by Nnadmi Asomugha and returned 16 yards for the score. The Bears led 10-7 with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter.

Kenneth Tolon, who scored last week on an amazing, yet flukish 71 yard run, hit pay dirt against Cal with 13:24 in the first half with a 29 yard touchdown run.  The play was similar to Brian Allen's run against UCLA as Tolon received a key block from the fullback Casey Moore.

Jensen added another field goal before Brett Pierce scored for Stanford.  Lewis, who was rushed on the play, lobbed the ball up to Pierce who came down with it.  Pierce broke a tackle and ran the ball rest of the way for the 45 yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-13.

Late in the half, Darin Naatjes made a 32 yard reception, taking the ball to the Cal 3.  Stanford was unable to put the ball in the endzone and Mike Biselli came on to attempt the chip shot field goal with four seconds remaining in the half..  However, the kick was blocked and Stanford was forced to take the 21-13 margin into halftime.  

Stanford caught a break on the kickoff to start the second half.  Charon Arnold returned the ball to the 27 where he was taken down by OJ Atogwe.  As he came down, the ball hit the ground, causing it to squirt loose.  Biselli came up with the loose ball, giving Stanford first and ten at the 26.  After a holding penalty on the defense, the ball was moved to the 16.  However, the Cardinal was stopped and Biselli's field goal was wide right.

There was more controversy later in the third.  On third and ten, Lewis threw a pass that seemed to have fallen short of Luke Powell.  The ball appeared to have bounced off the grass and into the hands of Atari Callen.  The officials ruled that the ball had instead bounced off the hands of Luke Powell, making it a live ball and Cal took possession off of the interception.  After a 29 yard pass to Arnold, Terrell Williams punched the ball in from the one.  However, Stanford answered right back.  On 2nd and 11, the Cal defense brought a blitz.  Lewis found Powell open on a hook route.  Powell evaded the cornerback and then raced the rest of the way for the 79 yard touchdown (which was reminiscent of his 75 yard score in last year's Big Game) to give Stanford a 28-20 advantage.

After Drew Caylor recovered a Boller fumble at the Cardinal 33, Stanford marched down the field all the way to 10 before Stanford committed a senseless personal foul penalty.  Lewis left the game briefly with a minor injury and Randy Fasani came in on 3rd and goal from the 24 and scrambled down to the 10 yard line.  Stanford lined up in field goal formation but instead tried to fake it.  The play was a disaster as Eric Johnson tried to force a short pass to Casey Moore, only to have it fall to the ground.  It was the third straight time Stanford had moved the ball inside the 20 yard line without having any points to show for it.

Teyo Johnson, who had been relatively quiet throughout the game, came through with a 31 yard touchdown reception with 14:24 left in the game.  Cal's best deep threat answered with a 40 yard touchdown just 1:01 later.  The Bears ran a fake PAT attempt and kicker Adam Sugerman completed his pass to Jordon Hunter to close the score to 35-28.

With Brian Allen out with an injury, Stanford was unable to make any long drives.  Fortunately, the defense was able to make the stops when needed.  Stanford got the ball at their 34 yard line with 2:35 to go but was unable to get a first down.  However, Cal ran into Johnson on the punt, giving Stanford a new set of downs with little over a minute left.  Once again, Stanford could not move the chains and was forced to punt.  With :27 left, Boller ran the ball for a 17 yard gain to the Cal 48.  After a two yard run and an incomplete pass, Boller tried the Hail Mary pass on the last play, only to have the ball fall to the ground harmlessly as Stanford held on to win 35-28.  It was Stanford's seventh straight win over Cal, a new series record.

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