Just when you think the Big Game couldn’t get anymore dramatic, the Stanford Cardinal go and do what they did on Friday night. Head coach David Shaw’s Cardinal team defeated the California Golden Bears in one of the more dramatic ways of this classic rivalry, 24-23.
A blocked extra point attempt is ultimately the difference in the game after Thomas Booker deflected what would have been the game-tying point-after-touchdown for Cal, after the Bears scored with :58 seconds remaining to bring the score to within one point. Booker’s blocked extra point was enough for the Cardinal to win but it wasn’t the only miscue that did Cal in.
In fact, Stanford even got a bit lucky in this one after a terrible throw from Cardinal QB Davis Mills was intercepted and Stanford retained possession due to a holding penalty elsewhere on the field for Cal. The interception was negated and the Cardinal scored what became the game-winning touchdown later on the drive.
The Bears also had a field goal attempt blocked by Stanford at the end of the first half and a muffed punt that also led to six points for the Cardinal late. In total, three special teams miscues saw a point swing of 11 points in Stanford’s favor (1 blocked field goal, 1 blocked PAT, 1 muff that led to a TD).
Stanford’s first drive started promising, but certainly flipped on its head when Mills couldn’t find a home for an overthrown ball on third down. After the defense clamped down on the next couple of series, it seemed the Cardinal offense began to find their rhythm, though, couldn’t quite find the end zone.
The roommate connection of Mills and Connor Wedington sparked Stanford’s first points of the game with this impressive reception.
Davis Mills floats a great anticipatory throw to Connor Wedington, who makes a terrific catch -- that's that roommate connection pic.twitter.com/8l5lDMF1O5— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) November 27, 2020
And then the special teams miscues for Cal hit.
Stanford took their first lead of the game after Milles hit Michael Wilson for 33 yards after a Cal fumble on their first possession of the second half added to their woes. Stanford went up 17-10, exchanged touchdown drive for touchdown drive in the third quarter and ultimately scored the game-winner when Austin Jones capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
In total, Mills finished the game 24-32 for 205 yards and a touchdown while Jones ran the ball 19 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
The Cardinal defense allowed just 151 yards through the air to Cal QB Chase Garbers but did see the Cal ground game go for 241 on 35 carries.
It became official late, the Axe returns to The Farm after a brief loan to Berkeley.
Stanford improved their overall record to 1-2 on the season while dropping the Bears to 0-3 at the same time.
All in all, a win-win for the Cardinal.