TEMPE, Ariz. — It was a shootout in the West, a desert duel to end the regular season.
Back and forth it went on Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium. Brock Osweiler matching Zach Maynard, Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson matching Cameron Marshall. Close to 1,000 yards of total offense.
And it ended with a kick, Cal upending Arizona State, 47-38.
Marshall had been piercing through the Bears’ defense for 150-plus rushing yards, but his fourth-quarter fumble gave Cal the ball with a six-point lead. The Bears (7-5, 4-5 in the Pac-12) took their time, running the ball on all eight plays before Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 30-yard field goal.
When the smoke cleared, the Sun Devils were down by nine points with 3:32 to go. Osweiler’s interception moments later sealed the final score.
“We stiffened up when we needed to in the fourth quarter and kept them out of the end zone,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “The guys just kept believing and kept battling and competing hard.”
In the first 30 minutes, the Bears had 10 points off turnovers to ASU’s seven, but their penchant for field goals led to their one-point halftime deficit. Maynard opened the game with two screen passes to Keenan Allen, first to the left side, then to the right. On the second one, the sophomore wide receiver hurdled the first defender and juked the second for a 34-yard gain.
A short run, an incompletion and a four-yard pass on third-and-seven led to a Giorgio Tavecchio field goal, his first of four.
The Bears’ next three scores were all touchdowns: Sofele on an 18-yard run, Maynard on a 16-yard run and Anderson — after a 22-yard gain — on a one-yard run. Sofele finished with 145 yards on 21 carries, while Anderson, who rushed for 48, scored three touchdowns.
“C.J. came in when I needed a break, I came in when C.J. needed a break,” Sofele said. “So that kept us out there 100 percent each time.”
Marc Anthony intercepted Osweiler at the ASU 30, and with a 24-14 lead, the Bears seemed poised to break the game open. Osweiler, on target up to that point, had just handed the ball over to a thriving Cal offense.
Despite an offsides call to begin the series, the Bears were forced to kick another field goal after gaining one yard on three plays but took a commanding 13-point lead.
“We depend on Giorgio,” Maynard said. “He’s a great kicker.”
The Sun Devils came storming back to close the half. At around the one-minute mark, Osweiler threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to bring the Sun Devils (6-6, 4-5) within six. Cal tight end Richard Rodgers fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return, and Osweiler had himself another touchdown pass just moments later to take a 28-27 lead.
The scoring sprees continued in the third quarter. An 11-yard sack by Mychal Kendricks forced the Sun Devils to kick a field goal to open the half. The Bears countered with a balanced drive, aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty that brought Cal up to the 16. After a timeout, Sofele ran right, backtracked left and took a nice block from Maynard to gain 11 yards and the first down. Anderson took it in for his second touchdown and Cal reclaimed a 34-31 lead.
Then came the cannon. After the Bears forced the Sun Devils to punt for the second and final time in the contest, Cal looked short but ended up with the bomb. An ASU defender came in, thinking Maynard was going to run it, and Anderson slipped by and caught the soft lob on the run for 74 yards, stretching the lead to 10 points.
“He made big plays both with his legs and his arm,” Tedford said of Maynard, who was 20-for-27 for 241 yards with two touchdowns, one passing and one running. “His maturation throughout the season has been great. His growth and development has been tremendous.”
The squad traded scores — the Sun Devils a touchdown, Cal a field goal — to set up what was a game-changing drive. Down six, ASU could have taken the lead, but Marshall’s miscue made all the difference. The Bears took nearly five and a half minutes to go 47 yards and clinch their first regular season finale victory since 2008.
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