Stanford Drops 109th Big Game to No. 21 California
Dec. 2, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Nate Longshore passed for 217 yards and No. 21 California survived a bitter wind and stubborn Stanford for a 26-17 victory in the 109th Big Game on Saturday.
Justin Forsett had 67 of his 75 yards rushing in the fourth quarter as the Golden Bears (9-3, 7-2 Pac-10) barely did enough to beat the Cardinal (1-11, 1-8) for the fifth straight year in a lackluster performance by both of the Bay Area archrivals.
Tom Schneider kicked four field goals and DeSean Jackson caught seven passes for 127 yards for Cal, which hasn't lost a Big Game since coach Jeff Tedford's arrival in 2002. The Bears had lost seven straight to the Cardinal before the Tedford era, but now have maintained possession of The Axe during their longest winning streak in the series since the 1920s.
Syd'Quan Thompson returned a fumble 15 yards for a second-quarter touchdown as Cal completed an unbeaten seven-game home schedule and set a single-season attendance record for Memorial Stadium. Despite losing its previous two games to Arizona and USC in disheartening fashion, Cal is headed to the Holiday Bowl to play Texas A&M on Dec. 28.
But both teams were limited offensively by the gales whipping out of Strawberry Canyon throughout the afternoon, turning an otherwise sunny day into a survival experience. Neither team could throw long passes effectively until the second half, and Stanford managed just one first-half touchdown despite controlling the ball for more than 20 minutes.
Cal led 13-3 when Thompson picked up Ostrander's fumble and rolled into the end zone 2 1/2 minutes before halftime, but Marcus McCutcheon returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards. Sherman slipped inside the defense and caught an 8-yard TD pass moments later.
Lavelle Hawkins caught a 32-yard TD pass on Cal's first drive of the second half, but Moore got the Cardinal back in it with a remarkable effort on a long pass down the Cal sideline. Moore separated himself from defensive back Thomas DeCoud with one hand and caught the pass with the other, falling into the end zone with a 51-yard TD.
But neither team summoned any magic in the fourth quarter of a game most famous for Cal's five-lateral kickoff return in the 1982 edition.
Stanford linebacker Michael Okwo forced Lynch to fumble at the Cal 14 with 13 1/2 minutes to play, but Aaron Zagory missed a short field goal. Forsett rushed for a handful of key first downs, and Schneider added one more field goal in the final minutes.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for just 67 yards in what was probably the Pac-10 rushing leader's final home game before heading to the NFL. Yet Cal largely abandoned the running game and improbably threw a bunch of high-risk downfield passes into the wind. Offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar's unusual strategy elicited a few boos from the crowd.