Stanford Enjoys Sound of Silence in 36-30 Victory


With both teams big-time underachievers, the 103rd edition of Stanford vs. California wasn’t the biggest of the Big Games, but it certainly provoked one of the biggest reactions--stunned silence from the Cal fans.

No one in blue and gold moved. Or spoke. Or sat. Cal’s portion of the 67,500 fans who filled Memorial Stadium on Saturday just stood in place for several minutes after the game and stared at the Stanford players celebrating on the field.

As for fan reaction, that’s probably the only thing you can do after watching your Bears wake from a near game-long snooze to score 17 points in the fourth quarter, only to lose in overtime, 36-30, on a busted defensive play.


Stanford quarterback Randy Fasani’s 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Casey Moore was not only the bitter end to a disastrous season for Cal, it also extended Bay Area-rival Stanford’s dominance in the Big Game.

The Cardinal (5-6, 4-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) has won six consecutive games against Cal (3-8, 2-6) and 10 of the last 11. Stanford leads Cal, 53-39-11, in a series that began in 1892, when Herbert Hoover was the Stanford student manager.

Around these parts, they have to strain to recall how it felt to beat Stanford and carry home the Axe, which must surely carry a Palo Alto zip code by now.

Even Stanford Coach Tyrone Willingham was impressed. “I think it’s a heck of a deal,” he said. “It’s a chance for our senior class to be part of history.”

Beginning in the fourth quarter, the lead changed four times and the score was tied twice--at 23-23, and then at 30-30 with a minute left after the second of Cal tailback Joe Igber’s two touchdown runs in the last quarter.

Cal won the coin toss to start overtime, but failed to score and Stanford took over at the 25-yard line. On second down, Moore sneaked out of the backfield from his fullback position and waved his arms at Fasani to show how open he was. Fasani already knew and threw over the middle to Moore, who caught the ball and crossed the goal line in a couple of quick strides.


Moore said it was the first time the play was run all season.

“I didn’t think I would be that wide open,” he said. “I came through the gap and there was no one there. I just watched the ball come into my hands.

“No words can express the feeling.”

It was a wild ending to what appeared to be a less than engaging contest. Stanford, which didn’t exceed 100 yards in total offense until the fourth quarter, held a 16-13 lead after three quarters thanks to special teams that twice blocked Cal punts. The first resulted in touchdown, the second a field goal.

Igber’s 27-yard run for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter gave Cal a 20-16 lead, but Stanford went ahead, 23-20, on an 80-yard scoring drive that ended on Fasani’s one-yard touchdown pass to DeRonnie Pitts.

After Cal caught up again with a field goal, Fasani threw a short pass to Luke Powell, who ran down the sideline and somehow managed to stay in bounds, crossing the goal line on a 75-yard scoring play with 4:17 left.

Stanford’s 30-23 lead didn’t last and Igber’s nine-yard touchdown run tied the score at the end of a drive kept alive by two Cardinal penalties.

Fasani was just good enough--completing 12 of 23 passes for 242 yards.

Cal quarterback Kyle Boller, a sophomore from Newhall, completed 22 of 34 passes for 195 yards, but he had four passes intercepted, two of them in a wildly entertaining first half.


The first half was sort of offbeat, even by Big Game standards, and we all know what levels of nuttiness you can reach around here (see Stanford band, 1982).

Cal drove 75 yards for a touchdown the first time it had the ball. Unfortunately, Saleem Muhammad’s one-yard plunge was the sole first-half highlight for the Bears.

The fun was just beginning, though. Nick Harris of Cal set an NCAA record with the 321st punt of his career and the way the Bears were going on offense, Harris seemed to have a good shot at 400 by the end of the game.

If it weren’t for Cal’s punting game, it would have been 7-7 at halftime, but because Stanford scored 10 points after blocking two of Harris’ punts, the Cardinal managed to lead, 16-7.

In the first quarter, Stanford’s Colin Branch swatted the ball away right after it left Harris’ foot, then scooped it up and seemed sort of stunned by loping into the end zone for a touchdown.

Stanford kicker Mike Biselli must have been distracted, because he shanked the extra point and Cal still led, 7-6.