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Cal Football

Bears Go Big in 41-11 Demolition of Stanford in 124th Annual Big Game

November 20, 2021
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STANFORD STADIUM -49,265 fans in Palo Alto witnessed one of the biggest shellackings in the 124 year history of the Big Game today. And today, Cal was on the winning side of the ledger in a decisive way with a 41-11 romp over their rival.

How did they do it? Let us count the ways.

The Bears racked up a Big Game record 636 yards from scrimmage to Stanford's 287, surpassing their Big Game record offensive output of 560 yards by a wide margin, not to mention Stanford's 603-yard previous Big Game record in their Big Game rout of Cal in 2013. They averaged a whopping 10.3 yards per carry (352 total yards), led by senior running back Christopher Brooks with 131 yards on 13 carries and two TDs. Receiver Trevon Clark had a standout game with 135 yards in just three catches and a TD. Senior QB Chase Garbers passed for 246 yards and rushed for 59 yards at an 8.4 yards per carry clip, keeping the Stanford defense off balance all game long. 

The defense, led by frosh inside linebacker Nate Rutchena with 10 tackles (9 solo), forced two turnovers and held steady with two early goal line stands. The Cardinal averaged just a paltry 1.7 yards per carry (just 48 total yards) and just 5.4 yards per attempt through the air.

“With the number of guys who made plays today on offense, starting with Chase, the reciever group, the running backs, the tight ends, it was really impressive,” said head coach Justin Wilcox, who ran his Big Game record as head coach to 2-2, with both wins at Stanford. “Where guys were breaking tackles, making a contested catch, Chase putting it on the money -that's what it takes.

“Bill Musgrave and the offensive staff putting us in position to do that with multiple formations and wrinkles -I know how hard it is to defend in practice and it showed up today. I really couldn’t be more impressed with the entire group.”

“Congratulations to Cal,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw. “They were a better team today. No question about it. We had our opportunities. Looking back, probably too aggressive. First few drives, we got down there inside the five yard line. Went for it on fourth down knowing they were a good football team, knowing they were going to come back.

“Really disappointing. Coming off of probably the best week of practice we probably had all year. Bunch of guys back. Some of those guys coming back maybe a little rusty. But they played hard. 

“So all credit goes to Cal. Great job by Justin Wilcox and his staff. They got after us today.”

The win was a huge boost for the program, who had turned things around after a rough 1-5 start to win 3 straight games decisively before covid reared it’s ugly head head, halting the team’s momentum with a loss to winless Arizona, missing 24 players and coaches. Today's win kept alive the Bears’ hopes for a bowl game. A bowl would require the Bears sweeping the California schools for the first time in almost 60 years but appears to be well within reach.

The game did not lack for excitement right out of the gate. After Stanford received the opening kickoff, Cal frosh cornerback Lu Hearns jumped the route on a Tanner McKee pass, coming down with the interception at the Cal 37 on the second play of the drive.

“Lu really since he's joined us in summer is a very steady guy,” said Wilcox. “Each and every day you know what you're getting with Lu, and he plays a position where you could be an island at times and everybody sees you. But he's got ability. Really quick feet, good anticipation, very smart, and for being a young guy that doesn't have a ton of experience. But maybe the most impressive thing is the calm he plays with. At that position for a young guy like that to play with such calm and confidence is very, very impressive.

“That's hard thing to measure in recruiting. I don't know that you really can. So we're sure glad Lu is on our team. I think he's got a very, very bright future.”

The Bears got in on the turnover action next, with running back Damien Moore getting stripped on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage and the Cardinal getting the ball back at the Cal 32. Stanford appeared ready to capitalize on the turnover, driving the ball to the Cal 2 but  on a questionable call by Stanford head coach David Shaw, the Cardinal tried a McKee keeper on fourth down and was stuffed by Cal safety Elijah Hicks for a turnover on downs.

The Bears next put on an impressive drive, going 95 yards in 10 plays, largely on the strength of Garbers’ rushing efforts but the drive was derailed on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on receiver Nikko Remigiio followed by a badly-underthrown third down pass by Garbers that was intercepted by corner Jonathan McGill in the end zone.

Stanford put on an impressive drive of their own, going 77 yards to the Cal 3 but again, the Cardinal rolled the dice on 4th-and-goal and came up empty, as the Bears’ defense held :46 into the 2nd quarter.

Lightning struck next for the Bears. After a Christopher Brooks run gave the Bears a first down at the Stanford 16, Garbers hit senior receiver Trevon Clark on a quick slant. With a full head of steam and no safety help in the cleared-out zone, Clark took the ball to the house for an 84-yard touchdown -the longest TD reception in the 124-year history of the rivalry game to give the Bears a 7-0 lead three minutes into the 2nd quarter. Cal's previous long was 80 yards, from Cal Hall of Fame QB and major league baseball star Jackie Jensen to Paul Keckley in 1947.

“That's a play we practice all week,” said Clark. “They were trying to play us man coverage. We knew we could take advantage of the middle of the field, so we repped it through our practice. Me and Chase continued to connect on it. As soon as I heard him call it I knew I was going to score, I didn't care where I was on the field. I caught it. Lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Clark had one of the more memorable Big Game catches in the 2019 games in the Bears’ game-winning drive. Was creating more magic on his mind coming into this game in his return to Stanford?

“I mean, that's always on my mind coming into every game,” said Clark. “This game had a little bit more importance because we were playing for something and we’ve got to go 3-0 these next three weeks because we were determined to go to a bowl game.

“I don't think too much out there. I go out there and just play. Whatever opportunities presents itself, I take advantage of it.”

After forcing their first 3-and-out of the game, the Bears got rolling again, methodically driving 80 yards in 12 plays for another score. After an impressive 30-yard catch by receiver Monroe Young in double coverage down the sideline brought the ball down to the Cardinal 1, Garbers rolled right on the next play and hit Brooks for the easy completion to go up 14-0 after the Dario Longhetto PAT with 5:38 left in the half.

A bit of poor late half clock management gave the Cardinal an opportunity to get on the board to close out the half with two minutes left. After using a pair of timeouts trying to generate some offense for an additional score before the break, the Bears were forced to punt from their 19. A short Jamieson Sheahan 36-yard boot gave the ball to the Cardinal at the Stanford 45, where they drove to the Cal 14 before the drive stalled. A 32-yard Joshua Karty field goal narrowed the halftime lead to 14-3 heading into the locker room.

In the first half, Garbers accounted for all but 30 yards of Cal’s 288 yards, with 200 yards on 12-of-19 passing and 58 yards on the ground to lead the Bears at the break. Clark accounted for 101 yards at the break on two completions.

Receiving the second half kickoff, the Bears promptly got back their 14-point lead with a 69-yard drive, culminating in a Longetto field goal to bring the score to 17-3 with 11:05 left in the quarter. The drive featured some creative trickeration with a Garbers pass behind the line of scrimmage to receiver Kekoa Crawford who took advantage of a nice Nikko Remigio block to hit Clark for an impressive 30-yard grab before the Bears' drive stalled and the Longetto field goal extended the lead.

After forcing a Stanford punt on their next possession, the Bears drove 71 yards before their drive again stalled, with Longeto hitting his 2nd field goal of the day, this one from 34 to put the Bears up 20-3 with 4:40 left in the third quarter. On the drive, Brooks ripped off a 75-yard run -the longest of his career.

The momentum stayed on track for the Bears -not to mention the big plays. After taking a pitch from Remigio on a hook and lateral play for a four yard gain, running back Marcel Dancy topped Brooks’ Big Game Cal record by a yard, bouncing off tackle and around the edge, outracing the Stanford defense for a 76-yard touchdown gallup, pushing the Bears lead to a comfortable 27-3 after the PAT.

The Cardinal finally got the ball in the end zone on their next possession, driving 93 yards in 13 plays, with running back Austin. Jones punching it in from 1 followed by a 2-point conversion to make the score 27-11.

The offensive production kept rolling for Cal the next possession, as the Bears took over at the Stanford 39 after a failed onside kick attempt. Cal quickly scored again, picking up 27 yards on a Remigio end around and a pair of runs from Dancy, with the senior running back scoring his second TD of the game on a 2-yard run, pushing the lead to 34-11 with 10:10 to go.

The Bears closed out the scoring with their final scoring drive powered by younger backup players Chris Street, including a 19-yard run and a 12-yard reception by frosh tight end Keleki Latu. Street’s 5-yard TD, pushing their lead to the final tally of 41-11.

Discussion from...

Bears Go Big in 41-11 Demolition of Stanford in 124th Annual Big Game

3,225 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 12 days ago by chazzed
RayofLight
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Quote:

Clark took the ball to the house for an 84-yard touchdown -the longest TD reception in the 124-year history of the rivalry game
Correction: The first game played between Cal and Stanford happened in the spring of 1892, 129 years ago. Cal initially challenged Stanford to a game of football in the fall of 1891, but Stanford asked for the game to be delayed to the spring because of a need to field a team and practice as that was right when Stanford opened its doors. One could technically push it back therefore to 130 years.

Source: Great Moments in the Big Game, produced by the University to mark the centennial of the Cal-Stanford rivalry in 1991.
Spreading light and goodness,
Over all the West.
GoOskie
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Go Bears!!!
Golden One
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Wilcox's record against Stanfurd is 2-3, not 2-2.
chazzed
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It is surprising how everything came together for this game.

I love the post-win interviews.

Go Bears!

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