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September 15, 2012

Maynard, Bigelow have stellar days in loss



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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- California sophomore Brendan Bigelow has three touchdowns in his Bears career, and while his 59-yard scoring scamper to tie Saturday's game against Ohio State was his shortest, at the time, it was certainly his biggest, as it very nearly helped Cal shock heavily-favored No. 12 Buckeyes.

But, despite Bigelow's late-game heroics and easily the best game of senior quarterback Zach Maynard's career, the Bears fell to Ohio State, 35-28, at the Horseshoe.

[RELATED: Thursdays With Clancy: Previewing Ohio State]

Despite playing a close first quarter -- even leading the Buckeyes briefly, 7-6 -- Cal (1-2) trailed 20-7 at the half, but midway through the third quarter, Bigelow took center stage.

With 9:34 remaining in the stanza, Bigelow followed a clutch block from true freshman wide receiver Bryce Treggs then spun away from safety Orhian Johnson, nearly falling to the ground. As he kept twirling, his knee mere inches from the artificial grass, then he eluded linebacker Ryan Shazier and broke free up the far sideline, sprinting and opened up the throttle, jamming 81 yards for a touchdown to bring Cal within six points. That run was the third-longest ever against the Buckeyes, and the longest ever against Ohio State at home since the scarlet and grey first took the field in 1890.

After the Bears defense forced three straight three-and-outs by Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes offense, Maynard led a 2:34 drive, finishing the eight-play series off with a one-yard touchdown run on a QB keeper to once again put Cal up by one point. On the afternoon, Maynard went 26-for-37 for 280 yards and one TD through the air, while also catching one pass from his brother Keenan Allen for eight yards to help set up a late touchdown.

Miller -- who went 16-for-30 through the air for 249 yards and four touchdowns -- then went to work, going 3-for-4 passing for 43 yards to fuel an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive.

Once again, enter: Bigelow.

[BREAKDOWN: Attacking the Buckeyes Defense ]

On first-and-10 from the Bears 25, Bigelow took the ball to the left, escaping stud defensive end Nathan Williams and then following a Chris Harper block on the safety Johnson to a 16-yard play along the left side. Taking advantage of the Bears' no-huddle offense, the speedy Bigelow took the next handoff all the way to the end zone, bouncing out left and going almost un-touched the rest of the way for a 59-yard touchdown.

After a key interception by cornerback Steve Williams -- who was abused most of the game by wide receiver Devin Smith -- the Bears got all the way down to the Ohio State 25, the drive stalled after fullback Eric Stevens -- who had caught two passes for 13 yards and rushed once for 11 yards in the first half - was stoned on third-and-one. Head coach Jeff Tedford went to placekicker Vince D'Amato for the third time on the afternoon.

D'Amato had already missed one 40-yard field goal and a 42-yarder through the first three quarters, and was once again entrusted with a 42-yard try with 4:20 left in the game. Once again, D'Amato's kick sailed wide left. After the game, Tedford said that the position would be re-evaluated.

[FEATURE: Bigelow Free And Easy a Year Later ]

On the very next drive, the Buckeyes scored against the Bears' cover 2 defense, with safety Alex Logan nowhere to be found as Smith hauled in a 72-yard scoring strike from Miller.

NOTES:
-- The Bears rushed 41 times for a total of 224 yards, led by Bigelow's career-high 160 yards on four carries. The 81-yard touchdown run was the longest play from scrimmage for Cal this year, surpassing Daniel Lasco's 77-yard TD run last week.

-- Bigelow's run was the longest since Jahvid Best's 93-yard touchdown run at UCLA in 2009.

-- Maynard's 26 completions were a career high. He also scored his first rushing touchdown this season and the fifth of his career. Maynard threw to eight different receivers, led by Allen, who caught nine passes for 80 yards. Tailback C.J. Anderson was second on the team with four grabs for 65 yards.

-- Allen moved to sixth place all-time in Cal career receptions with 164, and midway through the second quarter, he also registered his 2,000th career receiving yard. He now has 2,049 for his career. At 10th place on the Bears' all-time list in that category is Steve Rivera, who had 2,085.

-- Anderson's four receptions were a career-high.

-- Linebackers Jalen Jefferson and Nick Forbes each made their first starts.

-- Cal pulled ahead of Ohio State, 7-6, on a nice second-read pass by Maynard to true freshman wide receiver Chris Harper streaking up the middle for a 19-yard scoring strike with 2:38 to go in the first quarter. That was Harper's second TD grab of the season. He finished with three catches for 32 yards.

-- Tight end Spencer Hagan left the game with less than four minutes left in the third quarter when he took a helmet to his right knee from junior defensive back Christian Bryant. He was taken for X-rays, but no result was available as of publishing.

-- Cal won the time-of-possession battle against the Buckeyes, as the Bears had the ball for 35:10 and Ohio State for 24:50.

-- True freshman wide receiver Darius Powe caught his first career pass in the first quarter, and hauled in a 36-yarder in the third, as well.

-- Defensive lineman Keni Kaufusi forced his second career fumble on the last play of the first quarter.

-- JuCo transfer Steffan Mos got in his first Cal punts, booting the first two of the game for the Bears. His first career punt went 57 yards.


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