BERKELEY, Calif. -- Austin Jones ran for a pair of short touchdowns, Davis Mills threw for 205 yards and a TD, and Stanford blocked a would-be tying extra point in the final minute to take back The Axe trophy by beating Bay Area rival California 24-23 in the Big Game on Friday.
Christopher Brown Jr. ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 58 seconds remaining then Thomas Booker got a hand on Dario Longhetto's PAT attempt, sending the Cardinal cheering and celebrating along their sideline. Once the clock ran out, Stanford players danced and hooted and hollered some more on Cal's home turf in Memorial Stadium.
Michael Wilson had 88 yards on seven catches with a touchdown for Stanford (1-2), playing for the first time in nearly two weeks after last week's scheduled home game against Washington State got canceled because of a positive COVID-19 test among the Cougars.
This marked just the second game for Mills, held out of the season-opening loss at Oregon on Nov. 7 for what wound up to be a testing protocol mistake later acknowledged by the Pac-12.
The Cardinal had a nine-game Big Game winning streak snapped last season with a 24-20 home loss. They are now 9-1 in the rivalry under 10th-year coach David Shaw.
Jones ran for a 2-yard touchdown that put Stanford ahead early in the third but the Golden Bears (0-3) answered right back to tie it on Nikko Remigio's 3-yard TD reception from Chase Garbers set up by Damien Moore's 54-yard burst.
Garbers led Cal to the end zone on its opening drive, capped by a 7-yard touchdown throw to Kekoa Crawford, but the Bears couldn't quite pull off back-to-back Big Game victories.
Brown made things interesting, rushing 15 yards on third-and-10 from the 19 in the final two minutes, setting up first-and-goal and his scoring run three plays later.
Garbers completed his initial seven passes while Mills began 8 for 10 and hit Wilson on an 11-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter that sent the teams into halftime notched at 10-all.