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November 19, 2011

Cal trails Card at half



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STANFORD, Calif. -- For 13:43 of the first half, California led No. 9 Stanford in the 114th Big Game. The Cardinal at one point had just 63 total yards of offense to the Bears' 141. At the half, though, Stanford held a slim 14-13 lead, and momentum heading into the locker room.

For the vast majority of the first half, Cal had Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's number, with an interception by cornerback Steve Williams and a huge, 14-yard sack by senior inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

But, while Bears signal-caller Zach Maynard went 11-for-14 for 168 yards and a touchdown -- a perfectly-thrown 17-yard fade route to the right corner of the end zone to a diving Keenan Allen in the first quarter -- the Bears had two long drives stall out in the Cardinal red zone, settling for Giorgio Tavecchio field goals of 25 and 19 yards.

Kendricks provided the first-half highlight for a half-blue-and-gold crowd of 50,360 at Stanford Stadium, when with just over two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, the Bears lined up in a 3-3-5 defensive formation and the Cal defensive line -- even without senior leader Trevor Guyton, who was sidelined briefly with a shin injury - blasted open a hole for the former All-Pac-10 outside linebacker. Kendricks came through the middle of the Cardinal offensive line and wrapped up the 6-foot-4, 237-pound Luck, driving him back and finally twisting him into the ground to force an end to a seven-play drive.

Maynard had perhaps his best half of football all season, hitting his little brother Allen for a 42-yard play-action pass on the left side on the very first play of the game. With a first-and-10 at the Stanford 29, though, Maynard's pitch to Isi Sofele went awry, leading to a Cardinal fumble recovery. Though that was not in the red zone, it was the first of many down-deep frustrations for the Bears, as Stanford scored on a reverse to Ty Montgomery on the third play of its ensuring drive to take a 7-0 lead.

After Maynard's touchdown strike to Allen, the junior transfer from Buffalo turned in another big play with the help of senior wide receiver Marvin Jones to start the second quarter. On first-and-10 at the Cardinal 48, Maynard lofted a pass to the left sideline, where Jones left his feet, hauled in the pass, came down in-bounds with nary an inch to spare.

Two plays later, Maynard rolled left out of the shotgun, and, as he was flushed from the pocket, made a leaping throw across his body under pressure while he was in the air out of bounds. The ball came to rest in the hands of tailback C.J. Anderson for a gain of 19 yards to the Stanford 17. Jones would then botch a play looking to pass after a handoff, but made up for it with a physical reception inside the Cardinal 10 on a bullet from Maynard.

The drive, though, wound up coming up short, as Maynard missed a throw to Jones while jumping sideways to his left, a throw which could have easily been picked off by A.J. Tarpley. Cal was forced to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Tavecchio.

With 10:40 left in the half, the Cardinal began to come alive, running off a 10-play, 78-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard run by Tyler Gaffney and then a six-yard TD scamper by the 6-foot-1, 216-pound junior to take the 14-13 lead.


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