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Cal Football

The Chase is Over -Cal Pulls Off 24-20 Big Game Victory

November 23, 2019

STANFORD – The Play in 1982. Mike Mohammed's interception of Andrew Luck in 2009. Steve Sweeney's touchdown catch as time expired in 1972.

Welcome to the club, Chase Garbers.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback joined Cal's exclusive list of Big Game heroes with a 16-yard touchdown run with 1:16 to play, and the Bears captured The Axe for the first time in 10 years in a pulsating 24-20 victory Saturday at Stanford Stadium.

Garbers' score capped off a dramatic final drive for Cal's offense, which took over at its own 25 with 2:23 to play after a 44-yard field goal by Stanford's Ryan Sanborn gave the Cardinal a 20-17 lead. Two completions to wide receiver Nikko Remigio and a brilliant catch along the sideline by Trevon Clark that went for 37 yards moved the ball to the Stanford 16. After an incomplete pass, Garbers scrambled to his left, found a crease in the Cardinal defense and sprinted into the left corner of the end zone.

Garbers, who was knocked out of Cal's loss to USC last week and was unsure if he would even play Saturday, finished with 20-for-30 passing for 285 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 89 yards and a score.

"To make some of the throws that he made on the last drive and then the scramble for the touchdown, those are huge plays," Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said. "I think people are going to be talking about that drive for awhile."

Not only did Garbers' scamper help the Bears notch its first Big Game win since a 34-28 victory over Andrew Luck and Stanford in 2009, it made Cal (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) bowl-eligible for the second year in a row. It's the first time the Bears have qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back years since 2008-09.

Stanford got the ball back for one final possession after Garbers' score, but Cal's defense stopped the Cardinal on 4th-and-1 to end it. After a kneel-down by Garbers, the Bears rushed the field to celebrate and were joined by a couple thousand of their closest friends.

"It felt good to celebrate with the guys and bring The Axe back where it belongs," said Cal linebacker Evan Weaver, who recorded 13 tackles to move into second place on Cal's single-season list and set career-high with 164. "To see all the fans on the field …The Cal fans showed up today. They took over the stadium. They were super loud the whole game and supported us."

Bear Insider
Al Sermeno/KLC Photos

When the game ended, Stanford's Axe Committee ceremoniously handed The Axe over to Cal's Rally Committee, which paraded it around the field before bringing it to the Bears' locker room.
Wilcox spent much of Friday's team meeting talking about the history and Simportance of the Big Game.

"It's unbelievable to feel that energy after the game," Wilcox said. "There's nothing like it. So to be able to put it into words is very difficult. But being able to see everybody – our players, the joy in their faces – and our fans and alumni. It's a really special moment."

Remigio, who has been beaten up by injuries this season, registered career-highs of nine catches and 157 yards. It was the most yards receiving by a Cal player in The Big Game since Geoff McArthur had a school-record 245 in 2003.

Remigio caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Garbers with 7:44 to play that tied the game at 17-17. He hauled in a 40-yard pass earlier in that drive to help set up the score.

"I'm at a loss for words," Remigio said. "I'm proud of myself and the whole team. Honestly, I was sitting there crying like a baby (after the game). It was an indescribable experience. I'll never forget this for the rest of my life."

The teams engaged in an uneven first half that resulted in a 10-10 tie at the break. Christopher Brown Jr. scored on a 7-yard touchdown run for the Bears and Greg Thomas kicked a career-high 49-yard field goal.

Cal's offense stalled in the third quarter with four straight punts and Stanford went out in front 17-10 late in the period. But Garbers and the Bears came alive in the fourth quarter – their touchdown drives totaled 84 and 75 yards.

"I'm at a loss for words.I'm proud of myself and the whole team. Honestly, I was sitting there crying like a baby (after the game). It was an indescribable experience. I'll never forget this for the rest of my life."
- Cal WR Nikko Remigio

"We just had to stay true to our game plan," said Garbers, who is now 11-2 when he plays at least half the game in his career at Cal. "We are always going to be the team to out-tough people and out-grit people. We just had to stay true to who we were as an offense."




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