Bears Fall To Stanford, 35-28
Nov 17, 2001
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. - California probably would have needed a miracle tobeat Stanford in the 104th Big Game.
To the surprise of almost everybody at Stanford Stadium, no miraclesoccurred in the latest edition of one of college football's craziest rivalries.
Chris Lewis threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns as No. 13 Stanford wonits seventh straight Big Game, beating winless archrival Cal 35-28 on Saturday.
Though Stanford racked up 568 total yards in a critical victory for its bowlaspirations, against a team playing only for pride and revenge, the game wasn'tdecided until Cal quarterback Kyle Boller's Hail Mary from midfield was batteddown in the end zone as time expired.
Nineteen years after The Play - the famous five-lateral kickoff return - setthe standard for amazing football finishes, Cal couldn't find anotherunbelievable way to beat Stanford.
'It came down to that last play, and wackier things have happened in theBig Game,' Stanford receiver Luke Powell said. 'I was just relieved when ithit the ground.'
Powell caught five passes for 152 yards and two scores as Stanford (7-2,6-2) struggled tremendously while holding off the downtrodden Golden Bears(0-10, 0-8), who have just one more chance to avoid the school's first winlessseason since 1897.
'I thought we might have a chance on that last play,' said Boller, whoonce threw a Hail Mary to win a high school all-star game in which Lewis alsoplayed. 'Not this year, though, I guess.'
Teyo Johnson and Brett Pierce also caught TD passes from Lewis in apenalty-plagued, mistake-filled chapter of the West Coast's oldest collegefootball rivalry. The teams combined for nine turnovers, and both squads failedto move the ball or score late in the game.
'We had the toughness, the character, the resiliency to find a way towin,' said Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham, who's never lost to Cal. 'You'llhear me come back to that, because we're only concerned about the final score.We knew it would come down to the end.'
Willingham wasn't nearly as happy in the fourth quarter, when he shared adoleful look with Lewis as the quarterback came to the sideline after anotherfailed drive. Stanford put up gaudy offensive numbers, but most of them wereearned on a handful of big plays.
'We both kind of just shook our heads,' Lewis said. 'We knew we didn'tplay the way we should play. If our defense hadn't played great, we would havelost the game.'
Stanford's winning streak during Willingham's tenure is the longest foreither side in the rivalry's 109-year history. The Cardinal retained the Axe -even if the latest victory wasn't exactly a classic.
Washington State's loss to Washington means the Cardinal likely are ticketedfor the Seattle Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl.
Cal has lost 10 games for the first time in school history in the finalseason for coach Tom Holmoe, whose resignation will take effect after Friday'sseason finale at Rutgers.
Lewis, 20-of-38 on the most prolific offensive day of his short career, alsothrew three interceptions - one that was returned for a 16-yard score by NnamdiAsomugha. Boller threw two interceptions and fumbled.
Third-string Stanford tailback Kenneth Tolon ran for 82 yards, including a29-yard score. LaShaun Ward had five receptions for 86 yards, catching a48-yard TD pass from Boller, who was 20-of-46 for 278 yards.
The game's final score came on Ward's touchdown and a 2-point conversion forCal with 13:01 left. With 6 minutes to play, Johnson fumbled a short pass thatwas recovered by Cal's Tom Canada at the Stanford 43, but the Bears turned itover on downs.
The teams traded three punts in the final minutes before Cal got to midfieldwith 2 seconds left, but Boller's Hail Mary never got close to the Bears amidseveral Stanford defensive backs - including Johnson, a 6-foot-7 two-sport staron the Cardinal's basketball team.
Lewis' third interception midway through the third quarter led to Cal'sfirst offensive TD, with Terrell Williams scoring on a 1-yard dive to pull theBears to 21-20.
Senior quarterback Randy Fasani, who missed the previous three games with asprained knee, briefly returned to Stanford's lineup when Lewis was knockedwoozy by a hit late in the third quarter. Typical to his reckless style, Fasaniscrambled 15 yards on his only play, taking a nasty hit at the end.
The Cardinal went ahead 35-20 on Lewis' 79-yard TD pass to Powell, who jukedCal cornerback Atari Callen at the line of scrimmage and ran untouched to theend zone, and a 31-yard TD pass to Johnson early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears got a surprisingly strong turnout - bigger than their most recenthome crowds, in fact - for the game at Stanford Stadium, which seemed almostequally divided between Cardinal red and Cal blue-and-gold among the crowd of71,150.
'You want to walk around the Bay Area with bragging rights,' Johnson said.'You don't want Cal to have that hanging over you all year.'