Number nine: Cardinal extends Big Game streak with 23-13 victory in Berkeley

December 4, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 4, 2018

Stanford extended its historic Big Game victory streak to nine games on Saturday, beating Cal, 23-13, behind a pair of Cameron Scarlett touchdowns and two Paulson Adebo interceptions.

The Cardinal, who on Sunday accepted a Sun Bowl invitation to play Pitt on Dec. 31, finished the regular season 8-4 (6-3 in the Pac-12). Cal dropped to 7-5 (5-4) but demonstrated that they have taken significant strides in closing the talent gap that’s loomed between them and their archrival for much of the past decade.

Patrick Laird gained 116 yards on 19 carries and the Bears outrushed Stanford, 155 yards to 92. But the Cardinal, which controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes, scored 10 points on three takeaways to maintain its hold on the Axe, the trophy that the two universities have contested for more than a century.

Stanford opened the game with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that went almost entirely through the arm of K.J. Costello. The junior quarterback completed two throws to sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson for a total of 12 yards, a 22-yarder to senior wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a 15-yarder to senior running back Bryce Love and a 10-yarder to senior receiver Trenton Irwin. The Cardinal took a 3-0 lead after a 26-yard field goal from junior kicker Jet Toner.

After Stanford’s battered defense induced a punt, the Cardinal briskly moved from their 27 to the Bears’ 46 on the strength of two- and eight-yard runs by Scarlett and Love, respectively, and a 17-yard reception by Arcega-Whiteside. Then Costello threw a short pass to Scarlett that the senior out of Portland, Ore., gathered in around midfield and then took to the house, assisted by a lead block from redshirt senior guard Brandon Fanaika and a downfield block from Arcega-Whiteside.

Following an exchange of punts, redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Garbers nickel-and-dimed Cal’s way to the Stanford 23. The drive ended on a 40-yard field goal by Greg Thomas.

The Bears defense forced a Stanford three-and-out, allowing Cal to mount a second straight scoring drive. Redshirt senior running back Patrick Laird had a magnificent 62-yard run to set the Bears up on the Cardinal 12, but the offense stalled there. Thomas’s second kick was good, this time from 24 yards, to cut the hosts’ deficit to 10-6.

The Cardinal offense submitted another three and out, returning the pigskin to Cal with slightly more than three minutes to go. Redshirt senior inside linebacker Bobby Okereke and sophomore outside linebacker Gabe Reid joined forces to drop Garbers at the Cal 33 for a four-yard loss on the first snap, but Garbers converted third and 11 with a run to the 50-yard line.

Shortly afterward, however, Okereke knocked the ball out of senior fullback Malik McMorris’s arms following a short pass to the Cardinal 40. Senior inside linebacker Sean Barton recovered and made a short return, giving Stanford the ball back with 72 seconds left before the break.

Costello capitalized, completing throws to Arcega-Whiteside for 15 and 31 yards, along with an eight-yarder to junior running back Trevor Speights. Toner came on to make a 19-yard field goal with a second left; Cal kneeled out the half, going to the locker rooms facing a 13-6 deficit.

Neither team scored during the third quarter, which was probably highlighted by senior Jake Bailey follow up a subpar 30-yard punt with punts of 52 and a school-record 84 yards.

At the start of the final quarter, Cal moved to the 34-yard line before sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo made a spectacular one-handed interception in the end zone. Unfortunately, the Bears got the ball right back when Love lost a fumble at the Cardinal 23.

But after the Cardinal defense limited Cal to a six-yard Laird run, Thomas’s 36-yard field-goal attempt missed wide left.

This time, Stanford’s offense capitalized on the break afforded them by the defense and drove to the Cal 1, thanks in part to a Bears roughing-the-passer flag on third down. The drive, which also featured a 24-yard Arcega-Whiteside reception and a 10-yard Love run, ended with a 21-yard Toner kick to put the visiting squad back up by 10 points with 3:43 left in the game.

That put pressure on Garbers to do something for which he’s ill suited: Pass the Bears to victory. Sure enough, when he dropped back from his 35 and attempted a long throw, Adebo picked him off at the Cal 46 and ran the ball back to the Bears’ 3. On the next play, Scarlett scored a touchdown to give Stanford an insurmountable 23-6 lead with 2:27 remaining.

Garbers was able to lead his troops on a touchdown drive, completing an 11-yard scoring pass to junior wideout Jordan Duncan with 10 seconds left. But sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson recovered the onside kick for Stanford. That enabled the white-clad team knelt once to cap a 23-13 victory, their ninth straight in the long-running rivalry.


Helpful links

Stanford-‪Cal team statistics — ESPN
Stanford-Cal box score
Stanford-Cal play-by-play
Stanford-Cal interactive box score —
Stanford-Cal static box score —
Stanford 2018–19 football roster
Cal 2018–19 football roster
Game (and some other) tweets — @memomoment

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