Cal outlasts ASU in shootout
C.J. Anderson scored three touchdowns, Isi Sofele ran for 145 yards and another score and California ended the regular season with a 47-38 win over Arizona State Friday night.
Anderson scored on two runs and a 74-yard catch, and Giorgio Tavecchio hit four field goals to help Cal (7-5, 4-5) ensure its ninth winning season in 10 years.
Zach Maynard threw for 237 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as the bowl-bound Bears racked up 484 total yards.
Arizona State (6-6, 4-5) lost its chance of winning the Pac-12 South earlier in the day and may have put coach Dennis Erickson’s job in jeopardy with its fourth straight loss.
Cameron Marshall ran for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but had a big fumble in the fourth quarter for the Sun Devils. Brock Osweiler threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
Cal had been going the opposite direction as Arizona State.
The Bears came in with two wins in three games, the loss a tight one against No. 8 Stanford last week in a soggy Big Game. Bowl-eligible for the eighth time in nine seasons, Cal was looking for another win to secure a winning record and a better postseason slot.
Cal did just that by keeping Arizona State’s defense off-balance, complementing Maynard’s passing by running for 247 yards.
The Sun Devils’ shot to win the Pac-12 South ended before the game started, with Colorado’s victory over Utah.
Arizona State still had plenty to play for, needing a win to get a shot at a better bowl and to give Erickson some breathing room.
The 64-year-old coach was on the hot seat last season and kept his job despite missing a bowl game for the third straight season.
Erickson appeared to be in good shape after Arizona State opened this season 6-2 and clinched a bowl berth in late October. Things deteriorated quickly, though, culminating with last week’s deflating home loss to rival Arizona, which was 2-8 before the game.
Even with the Sun Devils bowl being eligible, Erickson could be in trouble – as early as next week after this loss.
Offense dominated this game from the start.
Cal scored on its first three possessions: a 48-yard field goal by Tavecchio, an 18-yard run by Sofele and a 16-yarder by Maynard that put the Bears up 17-7 in the first quarter.
Marshall scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and Osweiler hit Aaron Pflugrad on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-14 on the first play of the second.
The Bears went up 27-14 late in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Anderson and a 27-yard field goal by Tavecchio.
Arizona State rallied quickly, though, scoring twice in 29 seconds. Osweiler hit Rashad Ross on a 35-yard pass, then Trevor Kohl on a 4-yarder with 33 seconds left in the half – three plays after Cal’s Richard Rodgers fumbled the kickoff and the Sun Devils recovered.
Cal tried to pull away again in the third quarter.
Anderson scored on a 3-yard run on Cal’s first drive of the third quarter, then on a 74-yard catch-and-run to put the Bears up 41-31. Maynard set it up by scrambling left to draw the defense in, then flipped over the top to Anderson, who took care of the last 60-or-so yards on his own.
Arizona State cut the lead 41-38 on a 24-yard burst up the middle by Marshall that tied him with Woody Green (1972) and Terry Battle (1996) for the single-season school rushing touchdowns record.
But on Arizona State’s next drive, Marshall fumbled and Cal’s Mustafa Jalil recovered – after a video replay reversal – at the Bears’ 40. Tavecchio followed with a 30-yard field goal to give Cal a nine-point lead with just over 5 minutes left.