Dec. 1, 2007
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Stanford, Calif. (AP) - California bottomed out in the Big Game, and Stanford was left holding The Axe.
T.C. Ostrander passed for 151 yards and an early touchdown to Mark Bradford, and Stanford snapped its five-game losing streak against Cal with a 20-13 victory Saturday night, the Golden Bears' sixth loss in seven games during an incredible collapse by the former No. 2 team.
Nick Sanchez intercepted two passes in the 110th Big Game for the Cardinal (4-8, 3-6 Pac-10), who earned its first home conference victory under rookie coach Jim Harbaugh.
Stanford beat Cal coach Jeff Tedford for the first time in six tries. With Sanchez making the biggest plays, the Cardinal held Tedford's offense to 13 points or fewer for just the fourth time in his six seasons.
Stanford didn't even need any trickery on the 25th anniversary of The Play, Cal's famed five-lateral kickoff return for the last-second touchdown that won the Bay Area schools' 1982 meeting. Harbaugh platooned two quarterbacks to run his steady offense, and the Cardinal defense made it look easy to shut down Tedford's talented collection of playmakers.
Nate Longshore went 22-of-47 for 252 yards and two second half interceptions against the Golden Bears (6-6, 3-6 Pac-10), who were the nation's second-ranked team before their first loss in early October. Justin Forsett rushed for just 96 yards, and the passing attack floundered until the final minutes.
Cal got a last chance when Stanford freshman Jeremy Stewart fumbled near midfield with 2:43 to play. The Bears drove to the Cardinal 19, but Lavelle Hawkins dropped a sure TD pass before Sanchez dived to make his second interception at the eight-yard line with 1:55 left.
Bradford then made a nifty first-down catch on the Cal sideline, allowing the Cardinal to run all but six seconds off the clock. After Cal's final pass fell incomplete, Stanford's fans stormed the field - and Sanchez led a charge of players to grab The Axe, the trophy awarded to the winner.