Big Game goes Cal’s way in victory over Stanford

Fernando Mendoza threw three touchdown passes, Jaydn Ott rushed for 166 yards and a score, and visiting California retained “The Axe” in its annual Big Game against Stanford with a 27-15 victory Saturday in the rivals’ final Pac-12 meeting.

Trond Grizzell caught two touchdown passes in the first half and Jeremiah Hunter hauled in a clincher with 10:19 to go as the Golden Bears (5-6, 3-5 Pac-12) remained alive for bowl eligibility with one game remaining: Nov. 25 at UCLA.

Ashton Daniels passed for 188 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a team-high 68 yards for the Cardinal (3-8, 2-7), who completed their Pac-12 schedule. Stanford ends its season at home against Notre Dame next week.

Cal led just 21-15 after Stanford’s Joshua Karty connected on his third field goal of the game, a 50-yarder, with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

But the Golden Bears then drove 75 yards in 13 plays, capped by Mendoza’s 8-yard scoring connection with Hunter.

Mendoza finished 24-for-36 for 294 yards with one interception. Grizzell made seven catches for 136 yards.

Ott, the Pac-12’s leading rusher, had his fifth 150-plus-yard game of the season. His touchdown came on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter.

Tiger Bachmeier caught Daniels’ lone scoring pass, a 41-yarder, later in the third quarter for the Cardinal, who never led.

Karty’s other field goals covered 44 and 53 yards.

Grizzell’s touchdown catches came from 9 yards out in the first quarter to open the scoring, then 54 yards in the second minute of the second period, giving Cal a 14-3 lead.

Stanford countered Cal’s first two scores with two of Karty’s field goals to hang within 14-6 at halftime.

With 161 yards on the ground and 294 through the air, Cal finished with a 455-290 dominance in total yards and 29-12 edge in first downs.