California Golden Bears Dash Stanford Cardinal's Rose Bowl Hopes

Steven ResnickSenior Writer INovember 22, 2009

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 14:  Shane Vereen #34 of the California Golden Bears runs against the Arizona Wildcats at California Memorial Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Coming into tonight's game that featured the California Golden Bears against the Stanford Cardinal, most of the talk was about Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart and how the Bears were going to stop him.

Before the game even began the announcers for Versus the network that was airing the game had talked to defensive coordinator Bob Gregory of the Bears. Gregory stated that the goals were to keep Gerhart under 150 yards rushing. 

In the first quarter it looked like that goal was probably not going to be in reach because Gerhart on the first Cardinal series took off with a 61 yard touchdown run on a third and two play.

The game didn't start very well for the Bears either. After three plays from scrimmage the Bears were already down 7-0. On the Bears first possession it didn't go very well either and the Bears were forced to punt. 

On the next series the Bears defense was able to hold and force a punt by Stanford, but again the offense didn't look very good and were forced into another three and out. Bryan Anger came into punt and got his punt blocked by the Cardinal and lead to the second rushing touchdown of the Game for Gerhart.

So, at that moment it didn't look very good for the Bears. The team was down 14-0 and Kevin Riley and the Bears offense looked like they were in for another struggle.

But, on the next Bears possession Riley was able to get the Bears down the field into the red zone, but the Bears had to settle for a field goal. I believe even though the Bears only scored three points it showed that the Bears could move the ball against the Cardinal.

California's defense stepped up again forcing another punt for the Cardinal. Again the Bears marched down the field and got inside the red zone. Unfortunately, Riley made a bad throw to Shane Vereen and the ball was intercepted on a nice play by the Cardinal defense. 

Again the Bears defense forced the Cardinal to punt. The Bears even with the interception by Riley seemed to have the momentum. Riley and Vereen helped get the Bears back down the field and this time the Bears punched their way through putting the game back to 14-10 and that's what the score was at halftime. 

Since, the Cardinal elected to receive the ball to start the game the Bears got the ball to start the second half. It didn't seem like the start of the half on the kickoff was going to be good for the Bears because of a penalty that forced them to start at the eight.

But, again Riley and Vereen were able to march the Bears down the field for another touchdown which gave Cal their first lead of the game 17-14. 

Although, on the kickoff by the Bears it looked like the Cardinal were at least going to tie the game up or possibly take the lead because of good return by the Cardinal and a personal foul.

Yet, another great stand by the Bears defense and a missed field goal let the Bears escaped unharmed after the penalty. Again the Bears were able to march down the field against the Cardinal and another touchdown for Vereen. Meaning that the Bears scored 24 unanswered points against the Cardinal.

Stanford finally got back on the scoreboard with Gerhart getting in for his third touchdown of the day, but the Bears took the wind out of the Cardinal sails by marching down the field again and this time Riley found Marvin Jones for a 12 yard touchdown.

That's when the game became interesting because the Cardinal were able to score again bringing the lead for the Bears to 31-28. It was the last six minutes of the game that was the most exciting or heartbreaking if you were a Cardinal fan.

It seemed like the Bears were going to go three and out and give the ball back to the Cardinal, but Verran Tucker made an oustanding catch along the sidelines to let the Bears be able to run more time off the clock and move the ball down the field.

Ultimately though the Bears were forced to put. Jim Harbaugh though made a horrific decision with just over four minutes left he chose to go for it on fourth and eight which gave the Bears the ball in great field position because the Bears were already in field goal range if the Cardinal didn't make it.

So, when the Cardinal went for it and did not get a first the Bears got excellent field position. Vereen was able to get the Bears a first down and instead of stepping out of bounds he stayed in forcing the Cardinal to use all three timeouts to stop the clock.

The Bears were only able to manage a field goal bringing the lead to 34-28. Tedford had his special team kick a short kick because of the dangerous return man the Cardinal had on the other side.

Which, mean that the Bears had to play defense with two minutes and 36 seconds left. It looked like the Cardinal were in position to win the game, but the Bears defense again stepped up with Mike Mohamed making the game changing play with an interception with just over a minute left.

The Bears were able to come out with a hard fought 34-28 victory over the number 14 team in the country.

As for Gregory's declaration of holding Gerhart to under 150 yards, the Bears did do that. Gerhart finished with 20 carries, 136 yards, and 4 touchdowns.

Vereen for the Bears acted like Gerhart as the man who just attacks the defense carry after carry. Vereen finished with 42 carries, 193 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

What was most impressive for the Bears were the four touchdown drives they went for 14 plays for 85 yards, 11 plays 92 yards, 10 plays 72 yards, and six plays 72 yards. The drive for the field goal was 10 plays 70 yards.

Meaning in those five scoring drives combined for 51 plays for 391 yards. Which also goes to show why the Bears ruled the time of possession nearly double that of the Cardinal.

Even with the time of possession in the Bears favor, the Cardinal nearly pulled off the victory. But, thanks to a great play by Mohamed on the interception the Bears came out victorious!


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