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September 29, 2012

Bears fall to ASU at home for first time since 1997



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PHOTO FEATURE

VIDEO: Emotional Reaction to Fourth Loss

VIDEO & COMMENTARY: Bigelow Missing in Action

VIDEO FEATURE: Sebastian Has Banner Day in Loss

BERKELEY -- Sophomore Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly used his versatility to help the Sun Devils, (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12), come away with a 27-17 road victory over California (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium -- the first time Arizona State has come away with a win in Berkeley since 1997.

Kelly threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-45 passing, used his scrambling ability to extend plays and drives and even had a 37-yard punt that forced Cal to start their first drive at their own five yard line.

While Kelly was finding plenty of time to throw, Bears quarterback Zach Maynard was running for his life most of the day. The Sun Devils defense hurried and harassed senior signal-caller --sacking him eight times for 46 yards -- limiting the signal caller to just nine completions on 28 attempts and 126 yards passing.

[Q&A With ASUDevils.com ]

"We got physically beat up front," said head coach Jeff Tedford after the game. "We didn't really have much time to throw the football. We got a little bit going in the run game, but in the pass game we got beat by a more physical team."

The defensive pressure, and poor offensive line play, led to the normally calm Maynard to dress down right guard Chris Adcock after the sophomore inexcusably allowed a defender free access for the Sun Devils' fifth sack of the day.

Cal fared better on the ground, rushing for 220 yards between Isi Sofele, (15 carries for 105 yards and one fumble), and C.J. Anderson, (eight carries for 79 yards), but a key fumble by Sofele at the Cal 37 led to a late first-half touchdown by Arizona State.

Against the run, the Bears held their own against leading Sun Devils rusher Cameron Marshall, who rushed for only 66 yards on 18 tries, (3.7 ypc), but his backup -- Marion Grice -- averaged nearly five yards per carry on his way to 49 yards on just 10 attempts.

[The EDGE: ASU ]

Arizona State receiver Rashad Ross led all receivers with seven receptions for 84 yards, while Cal's Keenan Allen caught four passes for 79 yards and had one spectacular touchdown grab.

It only took the Sun Devils two drives to reach pay dirt. With 7:11 remaining in the first quarter, Kelly threw a strike to the back of the end zone to a wide-open Darwin Rogers. Kelly, who was rolling to his right, found his big tight end crossing from the left, all alone, eight yards deep, just below the goal post.

The drive consisted of nine plays and 67 yards -- 39 of which came on three consecutive completions by Kelly. Arizona State reached third down only once, a third-and-five play, and in turn continued on their march with a six-yard scramble by Kelly for the first down.

In the second quarter, Cal struck back. With 13:06 remaining in the half, Sofele streaked through the left side of the offensive line and scampered 24 yards nearly untouched for the Bears' first points of the day.

The drive consisted of three plays -- two passes and the Sofele run -- and it was nearly just one play.

[IN-DEPTH: Attacking ASU ]

From the 24-yard line, Maynard took a three-step drop and launched a laser-guided pass over the middle to his brother, Allen. The junior receiver, who was even with the safeties as he caught the ball, began streaking towards the end zone with nobody in front of him.

But in the Pac-12, speed is a requirement -- and Allen isn't the only guy on the field with it. Before the Cal wide out could reach the end zone, Sun Devils safety Keelan Johnson caught up and made the tackle at the Sun Devils' 32 yard line.

Arizona State again took the lead midway through the second quarter with a 28-yard field goal from Alex Garoutte. The 10-7 lead, with 6:08 left in the half, required a 12-play, 52-yard drive that took two quarterbacks to lead. Along with Kelly, backup signal caller Michael Eubank came in for an 11-yard quarterback draw and a nine-yard sack by Cal defensive end Todd Barr. The Sun Devils would again score in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford forced Sofele to fumble at the Cal 37-yard line.

The play was reviewed and the call was nearly overturned, but the replay showed that there was a splinter of daylight between Sofele's knee and the ground prior to when the ball came loose. Arizona State safety Alden Darby recovered the loose ball with 3:11 remaining before the break.

"I broke through and thought I was going to make a big play," said Sofele on the fumble. "I didn't protect the ball the way I should have and one of the backside guys got it."

[IN-DEPTH: Defending the Devils ]

The sophomore Kelly once again played like a seasoned senior by rushing for six and passing for 32 yards on the final scoring drive of the half. His final pass threaded the needle to receiver Jamal Miles between three Cal defenders. The touchdown pass extended the Sun Devils' lead to 10 points with just 47 seconds remaining before the break.

As the two teams left the field for halftime, the Bears were battered by boos from the home crowd of 51,634. It wouldn't be the last time the boo birds would voice their frustration on the day.

The Sun Devils would again call on Garoutte to add points on the scoreboard at the 4:28 mark of the third quarter. His 33-yard field goal capped a nine-play, 51-yard drive and gave Arizona State a 20-7 advantage.

After nearly 27 minutes of futility -- and seven consecutive drives that produced more boo's than points -- the Cal offense finally got on track -- aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty and two solid runs of 12 yards by Sofele and 13 yards by Anderson. The drive was halted at the 18 yard line of the Sun Devils -- requiring a 35-yard field goal by Vince D'Amato with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.

The drive stalled after Maynard attempted to catch the Arizona State defense offsides. Sun Devils defenders had jumped across the line, but by the time the ball was snapped, they had gotten back to where they belonged. Still believing that he caught them, Maynard downed the ball for a five-yard loss.

Despite the jeers from the crowd when D'Amato came on the field for the field goal on fourth-and-seven, the score did breathe new life into the Bears. Now, down 20-10, the Cal sideline became energized.

Arizona State put together another long drive, a 12-play, 60-yard march that took up 4:40 in the process, but ended on the Cal 20-yard line. Garoutte -- who had already missed from 39 yards in the third quarter -- attempted a 37-yard try that was blocked by redshirt sophomore linebacker Nick Forbes.

The block re-energized the crowd, and the Bears capitalized on it with an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive.

Maynard, from the Arizona State 10-yard line, launched his best pass of the day towards Allen -- who was running covered towards the left front corner of the end zone. After being booed twice during the drive for off-target throws, Maynard's pass nearly sailed too far and out of bounds, but Allen came down with the pass, though the officials ruled the catch was out of bounds.

It wasn't until the replay was shown on the stadium's big screen that it appeared Allen may have made the catch. The play was reviewed and it was ruled that while Allen's right foot landed on white chalk, his left foot was dragging on the green turf of the end zone when he made the grab.

Cal had miraculously come out of their doldrums to get to within three points, 20-17, with 9:33 remaining in the contest.

The momentum created by the Bears' touchdown, though, was short-lived.

Kelly and the Sun Devils' offensive attack quickly moved the ball from their own 26-yard line to the Cal 22 in eight plays. On third-and-11, Kelly again made the quick read and clutch throw -- this time to Kevin Ozier -- who turned the 10-yard reception into a 22-yard touchdown score -- one of his two scoring catches on the day.

NOTEBOOK
−− Allen's touchdown grab was the 13th of his career -- tying him for eighth on Cal's all-time list.

−− Allen also extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception at 29.
−− Sophomore safety Avery Sebastian started the first game of his career and made a big impact, recording a career- and game-high 15 tackles. It was the most productive Cal defensive performance since D.J. Holt (at Nevada), Chris Conte (at USC), and Mike Mohamed (vs. Oregon) each had 16 in 2010.
−− Forbes' block of Garoutte's field goal attempt in the fourth quarter was the first such Cal block since Rulon Davis did it against Washington State on Sept. 6, 2008.
−− Along with Sebastian, true freshman tight end Maximo Espitia and true sophomore Viliami Moala earned their first career starts.
−− Cal held a moment of silence for alum Chris Stevens, who was one of the three U.S. victims of the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 12. He had been appointed to U.S. Ambassador to Libya in May of this year.


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