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California 28, Stanford 16

11/22/2003

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Geoff McArthur set a California record
with 16 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns, and the Golden
Bears rallied in the second half to beat Stanford 28-16 Saturday in
the 106th Big Game.

Aaron Rodgers passed for a career-best 359 yards and three
touchdowns as Cal (7-6, 5-3 Pac-10) kept the Axe and became
bowl-eligible for the first time in seven years. Stanford (4-6,
2-6) was eliminated from postseason contention in its first home
loss to Cal since 1993.

Adimchinobe Echemandu rushed for 87 yards, including a clinching
17-yard score with 1:39 to play. The huge Cal rooting section at
Stanford Stadium didn't charge the field, but the fans roared for
the Bears' second straight win over their biggest rivals following
a seven-game losing streak.

Vincent Strang caught the go-ahead TD pass for Cal, which won
despite fumbling seven times -- losing three of them -- and facing a
10-0 deficit in the third quarter before its powerful offense
finally stopped thwarting itself with turnovers. The Bears had 533
total yards.

California, the only team to beat second-ranked USC this season,
will receive its first postseason berth since making the Aloha Bowl
in 1996. With a bowl victory under second-year coach Jeff Tedford,
Cal would have its first back-to-back winning seasons since
1990-91.

McArthur, the nation's second-leading receiver behind
Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald, had the second-biggest receiving
yardage total in school history. The remarkable junior exceeded his
career highs for the second straight week while surpassing Dameane
Douglas' record 15 receptions in 1998.

His 44-yard TD reception in the third quarter was Cal's first
score. The Bears dominated the rest of the game, with Strang
scampering for a 14-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter
to give Cal its first lead.

Rodgers went 26-of-37 in his first Big Game, relying heavily on
McArthur's uncanny ability to find seams in the Stanford defense
for medium-sized gains.

In the first half, however, the Bears hardly resembled the
offensive powerhouse that racked up a school-record 729 yards last
week against Washington.

Cal fumbled four times in the first quarter, losing three, and
threw an interception early in the second. Even when the Bears held
on to the ball, Stanford's defense -- which yielded 756 yards to
Oregon State in a 43-3 loss last week -- kept them off the
scoreboard.

After James Bethea fumbled the opening kickoff, Michael Sgroi
kicked a 22-yard field goal. Star Cal running back Adimchinobe
Echemandu fumbled moments later, and Lewis hit Powell with a
24-yard scoring pass across the middle.

Freshman quarterback Trent Edwards relieved Stanford starter
Chris Lewis in the fourth quarter, but Sid Slater got an
interception on Edwards' first play. Moments later, McArthur
slipped behind the Stanford secondary for a 21-yard score.

Cal's 30-7 win over Stanford last season snapped a seven-game
losing streak in the nation's ninth-oldest rivalry game. The Bears
paraded the Axe around Memorial Stadium, and fans tore down the
goalposts.

The celebration was much more subdued this time. The
blue-and-gold fans chanted "We've got the Axe!" and roared from
their seats, but a long blue line of police wearing riot gear
prevented anybody from charging the field after Mark Bradford
caught a 30-yard TD pass from Lewis as time expired.

Cal senior lineman Chris Murphy ran along the Stanford track,
waving the school flag, while his teammates danced on the "S" at
midfield. The team then took a victory lap, acknowledging its fans
with waves and cheers.