NCAA

Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

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Stanford holds off Cal 31-28 under sloppy Big Game conditions

BOX SCORE

STANFORD (AP) -- Andrew Luck slogged through a soggy field, all smiles, hands raised, taking a little extra time watching his Stanford teammates sprint to lift The Axe in triumph.

One last Big Game moment to savor.

Luck threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and No. 8 Stanford survived a shaky start to beat rival California 31-28 on Saturday night in rain-soaked Big Game with a rare late start under the lights.

"It means a lot," said Luck, who has insisted this year will be his last in a Cardinal uniform. "It will mean more once the season is over, I'm sure, you get to reminisce. I feel very grateful and blessed winning two games in a row against them and retaining The Axe another year."

The pelting rain did little to slow Luck down.

Luck revived his Heisman Trophy campaign by tossing scores to Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt, keeping the Cardinal's slim chances of a Pac-12 title and national championship alive. He overcame an early interception and rallied Stanford (10-1, 8-1) from six points down to keep The Axe on The Farm for the second straight season.

"It's special," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It didn't really hit me until today. You look in the seniors' eyes, they wanted it so bad. As a coach, you can't help but pull for your guys and want them to be successful."

Cal's quarterback might have been the better of the two for long stretches.

Zach Maynard finished with 280 yards passing with two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5) in the 114th edition of the Bay Area rivalry. Cal's offense struggled in the second half before a late comeback came up short.

Stanford had its 17-game winning streak snapped the previous Saturday in a 53-30 loss to Oregon that seemed to dash its national championship dreams. With No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson all falling this week, the Cardinal's chances might not seem so far-fetched anymore.

They host Notre Dame in the regular-season finale looking to stay in the hunt for another BCS bowl - if not a slim shot at the national title - but can only reach the Pac-12 title game if Oregon loses at home to rival Oregon State.

Stanford stuck it out in the slop and emerged with a victory to save what's left of its season.

With a steady stream of rain falling, Luck connected with Toilolo for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter to extend the Cardinal's lead to 21-13. Stanford stifled Cal's offense again and quickly put the ball back in the hands of its star quarterback.

Luck wasted little time.

He found Toilolo for a 41-yard gain and finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to fullback Hewitt to put Stanford in front 28-13.

The Cardinal wasted an opportunity to put the game away earlier when Isi Sofele fumbled. Stanford took over and punted quickly, and Cal pushed ahead with the momentum.

Maynard led a 68-yard drive ending with a short TD pass to Spencer Hagan on third down. After a 2-point conversion on a pass to Marvin Jones, Cal cut Stanford's lead to 28-21 with 10:53 left.

"It was kind of frustrating because they were running the ball a lot right up the middle of the field and controlling the clock," Maynard said. "We had to hurry up and run a two-minute offense, and after that, we just ran out of time."

All that time quickly vanished.

Stanford grinded out 7:40 with a 14-play, 57-yard drive with a series of short runs and passes on slick, soggy field that had defenders sliding in every direction. Even running backs, too.

Jordan Williamson, who missed a 33-yard field goal wide left in the first half and hadn't played in the last three games because of an undisclosed injury, kicked a 35-yard field to give the Cardinal a two-score cushion.

"You've got to have faith in your players," Shaw said. "He missed a kick, but that was the right decision at the time."

That proved pivotal when C.J. Anderson ran for a 1-yard TD run for the Bears with 14 seconds left. But tight end Coby Fleener easily recoved the onside kick to seal Stanford's victory.

The Bears could at least take some satisfaction in closing the disparity between the two teams.

The distance was quite evident a year ago in Berkeley, when Luck and the Cardinal beat the Bears 48-14 in the most lopsided Big Game in 80 years. Cal left Stanford with a 34-28 victory in 2009.

"Any time you lay it all out there like our guys did, these guys have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They played their hearts out against a really good football team."

This time, both teams had sloppy starts.

Stanford recovered Maynard's wayward pitch back on the game's opening drive and took over at its own 37. Three plays later, freshman Ty Montgomery took a reverse and sprinted 34 yards down the sideline to put the Cardinal ahead 7-0.

The poise and polish Luck has showed so often in his college career again took time to emerge.

Steve Williams stepped in front of a falling Montgomery to intercept Luck's pass and return it 49 yards for a score that was called back because of an illegal block in the back. No matter.

Maynard found half-brother Keenan Allen for a 17-yard TD pass and Giogio Tavecchio kicked his second field goal from 19 yards to give Cal a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.

Stanford powered its way through the rain with a bunched-up running game - and not Luck - to regain its rhythm, ending a 10-play, 78-yard drive with Tyler Gaffney's short TD run to go ahead 14-13 at the half.

Cal never came that close again.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

On for the long haul: Saint Mary's awards Bennett with new 10-year contract

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AP

On for the long haul: Saint Mary's awards Bennett with new 10-year contract

MORAGA, Calif. – Coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, Saint Mary’s College men’s basketball head coach Randy Bennett has been rewarded with a new 10-year contract, President James Donahue and Director of Athletics Michael Matoso announced today.
 
Bennett enters his 17th season at Saint Mary’s, which begins Saturday at McKeon Pavilion. He is the school’s all-time leader in wins and ranks second in all-time wins for any coach in the West Coast Conference. His contract will run through the 2026-27 season at Saint Mary’s.
 
Last year the Gaels finished the season with a school record 29 wins for the second straight year, earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and reached the round of 32.
 
“I’m appreciative and thankful to President Donahue, Mike Matoso and the Saint Mary’s administration for their support. It’s an honor to have this opportunity to work at such a great institution,” Bennett said. “We’ve had great student-athletes and assistant coaches who have put a lot of hard work and effort into building the program to this level. My family and I truly enjoy being in such a supportive community and raising our family around this environment. We are excited to continue what we have started here 17 years ago.”
 
Over the past 10 years, Bennett has led the Gaels to an impressive 263-76 overall record for a .776 winning percentage. The winning percentage is the best in California and ranks fifth nationally during that stretch.
 
“Randy represents what Saint Mary’s College is all about. He exemplifies the College’s ongoing commitment to the development of our student-athletes,” Donahue said. “He is not only a remarkable coach, but he is a valued and respected leader on our campus. We are excited to have him committed to this long-term agreement and look forward to him leading Saint Mary’s basketball for the next decade.”
 
Bennett has led his teams to the post season 11 times, with six NCAA Tournament appearances (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2017) and the school's first NIT appearances (2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 & 2016). No other SMC coach has guided his squad to more than one post-season appearance.
 
“It is an exciting day for Saint Mary’s College to announce a 10-year extension for Coach Bennett. Randy embodies the core values of the college and we are very fortunate to have him,” Matoso said. “He has built this program from the ground up and we envision great things for the program in the future under his leadership. His teams have performed extremely well on the court and have matched that success both in the classroom and in the community.”
 
In addition to team accomplishments, Bennett has had 20 different players earn All-WCC recognition, with a total of 29 first team and eight honorable mention selections. He also coached former Gaels Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, who currently play for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, as well as many others professionally around the world.
 
In 2017, senior Jock Landale was named the first Gael to be in the top-5 for the Kareem Abdul Jabaar award under Bennett’s tutelage. The center was an AP Honorable Mention and member of the WCC First Team after averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
 
Also under Bennett’s tenure, in 2012, Dellavedova gave the Gaels the first back-to-back WCC players of the year since 1962. He also became the school's first-ever male first-team Academic All-America selection and was among five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's best point guard. He earned all-WCC honors three times and twice was a honorable mention All-America selection.

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