Skip to main content

Chasing History

Nov 18, 2021

The lobby of Cal's football offices features a big screen with rolling highlights of various memories of the program's history.

That means pretty much every day, quarterback Chase Garbers is reminded of his iconic 16-yard touchdown run that helped the Bears beat Stanford 24-20 in the 2019 Big Game.

"You can never really get tired of it because of just what it meant to a lot of people," Garbers said. "But I've seen it enough times where I don't have to stop and watch."

It would be hard to blame most Cal fans for watching Garbers' game-clinching scramble on an endless loop. The touchdown put the Bears in front with 1:19 to play and helped Cal eventually snap a nine-game losing streak to Stanford.

The victory set off a wild scene at Stanford Stadium, as players, coaches and staff celebrated on the field after Cal fans poured out of the stands to rejoice.

"I see it just about every day so it's always in the back of my mind a little bit," Garbers said. "It will probably go down as a very important play in Big Game history, and it's awesome to be a part of because of the tradition of the Big Game."

Garbers' run capped off a dramatic final drive for the Bears, who gained possession with 2:23 to play after the Cardinal went in front 20-17 on a 44-yard field goal by Ryan Sanborn. Garbers completed a pair of passes to wide receiver Nikko Remigio and Trevon Clark made a spectacular catch along the sideline for a 37-yard gain.

On second down from the Stanford 16, the Bears called a play intending to get the ball to running back Christopher Brown Jr. (now Brooks) in isolation against a linebacker. Stanford covered the play well and also got significant pressure in the pocket. Garbers scrambled to his left, and Remigio delivered a key block on Stanford safety Jonathan McGill. Garbers cut to the sideline and easily won the ensuing foot race to the pylon.

"I was pretty gassed on that play. I had just run two deep routes in a row," Remigio said. "I saw Chase had to break the pocket. As soon as I see Chase tuck it, it's an automatic trigger to just start blocking downfield. I was able to hold him long enough for Chase to break free and make an awesome play to seal the game."

Garbers' scamper gave the Bears a 24-20 lead, and the only thing that stood in the way of his run taking its spot among Big Game lore was one more defensive stand. Cal got just that, stopping the Cardinal on 4th-and-1 from its own 34-yard line and 38 seconds remaining.

Garbers took a knee, cementing his touchdown scramble among the most hallowed plays in Big Game history.

"Watching the play from behind, you almost kind of black out for a moment," Cal offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso said. "When you're playing, you're just trying to execute the next play and don't always realize the gravity of the situation while you're in it. Everyone was just so excited. I just remember running over to Chase and the whole Cal section was right there behind us in the end zone. I'll remember it for a long time."

Garbers said when he returned to the locker room after the on-field celebration and saw some of the reaction on social media is when he began to realize the magnitude of his run. He's still asked about the play, mostly from alumni and younger players on the team.

"It didn't sink in right away," Garbers said. "Obviously, the defense still had to go back on the field. But we were pretty sure in our minds after we scored that we had won the game. It was not only a huge win for our program, but for the whole Cal community. I still remember grown men on the field crying and how happy and excited they were, and thankful that we won the game. The tradition of the Big Game speaks volumes. It was just a tremendous honor to be part of that game."