A blocked extra-point attempt after a Cal touchdown with 58 seconds left led to the Bears losing to Stanford 24-23 Friday afternoon in the 123rd Big Game.
It was the Golden Bears' home opener, and the Bears were without five starters. (See availability below.)
No fans were allowed to attend the game, although cardboard cutouts occupied the first several rows behind the Cal bench and a number of people watched the game from Tightwad Hill.
Cal committed two turnovers, both of which led to Stanford touchdowns, and had a 32-yard field goal attempt blocked.
But none was as costly as the extra-point attempt blocked by Thomas Booker with less than a minute left.
STANFORD 24, CAL 23
RECORDS: CAL (0-3), STANFORD (1-2)
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Stanford quarterback Davis Mills wa 24-of-32 for 205 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
TURNING POINT: With Cal leading 10-3, the Bears' Nikko Remigio fumbled a Stanford punt, and the Cardinal recovered at the Cal 16-yard line. Stanford turned it into a touchdown on Davis Mills' 11-yard touchdwn pass to Michael Wilson with 3:09 left in the first half, tying the score at 10-10.
KEY PLAY II: With the score tied 10-10, Cal took over at its 30-yard line with 46 seconds left in the half and no timeouts remaining. The Bears drove to the Stanford 15-yard line, but Dario Longhetto's 32-field goal attempt was blocked on the final play of the half.
KEY PLAY III: With the score tied 10-10, Cal running back Marcel Dancy fumbled and Stanford recovered at the Cal 41-yard line with 11:57 left in the third quarter. The Cardinal turned it into a go-ahead touchdown. After a 33-yard completion to Michael Wilson, Stanford scored on Austin Jones' 2-yard run to give Stanford its first lead, 17-10.
KEY PLAY IV: An interception by Cal's Daniel Scott was wiped out by a holding penalty on Elijah Hicks. Stanford eventually scored a touchdown on that possession to take a 24-17 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
KEY PLAY OF THE GAME: After Cal scored with 58 seconds left to get within 24-23, Dario Longhetto's extra-point attempt was blocked by Stanford's Thomas Booker.
AVAILABILITY: Cal tailback Christopher Brown Jr., who missed last week's game with an unspecified injury, was in uniform against Stanford but did not play until the fourth quarter. Marcel Dancy was the starting tailback, as he was last week. Cal center Michael Saffell, who missed most of last week's game with a leg injury, was in the starting lineup against Stanford.
Five other Cal starters unavailable: Tight end Collin Moore, offensive linemen Jake Curhan, Valentino Daltoso and Will Craig and outside linebacker Braxten Croteau were not available for the game, presumably for COVID-19 contact-tracing reasons. All five of these starters missed last week's game as well. Backup nose tackle Stanley McKenzie was also unavailable, although his absence was believed to be injury-related.
TEAM STAT OF THE GAME: For the second week in a row, Cal had more total yards of offense than its opponent, 392-300, and for the second week in a row, Cal lost.
PLAYER STAT OF THE GAME: Cal quarterback Chase Garbers was 19-for-29 for a modest 151 yards, two touchdown and no intercceptions, and also ran for 51 yards.
PLAYER STAT OF THE GAME II: Cal inside linebacker Kuony Deng had 14 tackles, including one tackle for a loss.
PLAYER STAT OF THE GAME III: Cal freshman running back Damien Moore rushed for 121 yards on 10 carries and ahad runs of 54 and 27 yards.
UGLY STAT OF THE GAME: Cal committed two turnovers, both of which led to Stanford touchdowns, and forced no turnovers by Stanford.
UGLY STAT OF THE GAME II: Cal had seven offensive plays that lost yardage, including four sacks of Chase Garbers that lost 16 yards.
STARTING LINEUP NOTE: Inside linebacker Muelu Iosefa became the first true freshman to start a game for Cal this season, taking the place of Evan Tattersall, who had started the first two games at inside linebacker.
WHAT IT MEANS: Cal was virtually eliminated from Pac-12 title contention last week, but now they are unlikely to have a winning record. The Bears were shooting for their third straight winning season, something they have not done since 2008, the last of eight straight winning seasons for the Bears.
CAL’S BOWL BAROMETER: The Bears have about a 30 percent chance of getting into a bowl for the third straight season. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said four weeks ago that a Pac-12 team must have at least a .500 record to accept a bowl berth, but the conference has changed its position on a number of football issues in the past few weeks.
NEXT GAME: Oregon at Cal, Saturday, Dec. 5. Kickoff: Will be announced Sunday. TV: Will be announced Sunday. Oregon is 3-1 after Friday evening's 41-38 loss to Oregon State. The Ducks are ranked No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
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