BERKELEY (AP) — Cameron Scarlett caught a short pass from K.J. Costello and raced 46 yards for one of his two touchdowns, Paulson Adebo intercepted two passes and Stanford relied on its defense to win its ninth straight Big Game, 23-13 over California on Saturday.
The Cardinal (8-4, 6-3 Pacific 12) scored on their first two drives of the game to take a 10-0 lead on Scarlett’s first score and held on against the Golden Bears (7-5, 4-5) to extend the longest winning streak in the series that began in 1892.
Adebo made a spectacular one-handed interception in the end zone to preserve the lead in the fourth quarter for the Cardinal. He added another interception late in the quarter that he returned to the 3-yard line that set up Scarlett’s second score and helped Stanford keep The Axe for another year.
Bryce Love lost a fumble the play after Adebo’s interception but Stanford’s defense stepped up again and forced a field goal that Greg Thomas missed from 36 yards to keep the score 13-6.
The Cardinal then burned more than seven minutes off the clock, with help from a third-down roughing the passer penalty against Tevin Paul, before making it a 10-point lead on Jet Toner’s third field goal of the day.
This year’s matchup featured both teams with at least seven wins for just the second time in the past 27 seasons. The game was delayed two weeks after being postponed on Nov. 17 because of unhealthy air conditions from Northern California wildfires.
There was a boisterous crowd hopeful the Bears would end their Big Game slump but Stanford started fast. Costello picked apart Cal’s defense on the opening drive to set up Toner’s 26-yard field goal and Scarlett added has long score on the second drive.
Thomas kicked two field goals in the second quarter for Cal but 290-pound fullback Malik McMorris lost a fumble late in the half and the Cardinal drove down for a field goal in the final seconds that made it 13-6 at the break.
Stanford: The Cardinal’s season-long inability to run struck again with Love capping his final regular season game by rushing for just 74 yards on 22 carries. Costello managed to connect with JJ Arcega-Whiteside on a couple of big passing plays and threw for 237 yards overall but the Cardinal weren’t able to generate much consistency.
California: The Bears once again got little from their passing game with Chase Garbers going 22 for 39 for 197 yards, two interceptions and an 11-yard TD pass to Jordan Duncan with 10 seconds left. Garbers did manage to scramble for 44 yards and Patrick Laird had a 62-yard run and finished with 116 yards on the ground but Cal couldn’t manage to get into the end zone until the game had been decided.
Stanford: Bowl game to be determined.
California: Bowl game to be determined.
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