Cal uses TD return to beat Stanford 27-20 in big game


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dated: 2022-11-20 02:40:08 .

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Jackson Sirmon scored on a 37-yard punt return after a wild game with two smokes and California rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Stanford 27-20 in Saturday’s big game.

The Golden Bears (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) were trailing 17-6 in the fourth quarter when Jack Plummer started the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Monroe Young.

The last possession of the ball for Stanford (3:8, 1:8) then really went to work.

Backup running back Ashton Daniels took a straight shot and scampered to the left. Daniel Scott stole the ball and Cal’s Jeremiah Earby recovered. But Daniels then broke the ball loose for the second turnover of the game by Earby, only for Sirmon to pick it up and go in to make Cal 9-54 for a 20-17 lead.

Stanford had three more runs. But the Cardinal punted twice, then McKee was intercepted by Scott with just over two minutes to play, setting up Jaydn Ott’s 1-yard run that sealed the win.

In the 125th edition of the Big Game, there was little at stake except pride and the ax going to the winning team. Both teams were knocked out of the bowling competition last week with losses, the first meeting since 2000 in which neither team had a chance to bowl.

This is also the first time since 1997-98. that Cal and Stanford had losing records in consecutive seasons.

However, that didn’t completely dampen the excitement as Cal had its first sellout since the 2013 game against Ohio State in front of a crowd of 51,892.

Stanford controlled the game in the first three quarters scoring TDs in both halves on their opening kickoffs. They took the kickoff and drove 75 yards capped by Mitch Leigber’s 1-yard run for his first career touchdown after moving from safety earlier this season.

After forcing a three-and-out early in the second half, Stanford drove 71 yards for another score, with McKee hitting Elijah Higgins 9 yards out.


Stanford: The Cardinal have lost back-to-back big games for the first time since 2008-09. They avoided their sixth straight game by 17 points or fewer when Joshua Karty hit a 60-yard field goal on the final play.

California: The Bears’ offense hasn’t been much more productive since OC Bill Musgrave and OL coach Angus McClure were fired following last week’s 38-10 loss to Oregon State. Cal scored just six points on its first six drives through midfield, but was able to beat Stanford at home in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2008.


This year marked the 40th anniversary of “The Playa” when Cal shocked Stanford with a kick return TD on the final play of a 25-20 victory that featured five sideline players and the Stanford band.

Cal this week unveiled a 1,500-pound statue of Kevin Moen scoring a TD and colliding with a Stanford trombonist in the end zone.

It also marks the last big game for Cal radio announcer Joe Starkey, whose exclamation, “The band’s on the field!” was the most memorable in his 48-year career.

Sadly, one of the players who got away with that game, running back Dwight Garner, died of prostate cancer on Saturday at the age of 58.


Stanford: Host BYU Saturday night.

California: Hosts No. 16 UCLA on Friday.


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Cal uses TD return to beat Stanford 27-20 in big game

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