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Mendoza hurt, returns to lead Cal past Stanford in Big Game

STANFORD, Calif. -- Fernando Mendoza threw for 294 yards and a season-high three touchdowns, Jaydn Ott ran 36 times for 166 yards and a score, and California beat Stanford 27-15 in the annual Big Game on Saturday night.

Mendoza, the redshirt freshman making his sixth straight start after beginning the year buried on the depth chart, overcame a big hit by Stanford linebacker Tristan Sinclair early in the second quarter and returned to lead the Bears (5-6, 3-5 Pac-12) to a second consecutive win that keeps Cal's postseason hopes alive. He completed 24 of 36 passes and was intercepted once.

As good as Cal's offense was, the Bears defense was equally strong. The Cardinal were limited to 12 first downs, made only one trip inside the red zone and were tackled six times for losses while losing to their San Francisco Bay Area rivals for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Cardinal quarterback Ashton Daniels was 18 of 35 for 188 yards passing and a touchdown, and added another 68 yards rushing for Stanford (3-8, 2-7), the lone FBS team to not have a home victory this year.

Mendoza was injured while trying to scramble for a first down. The Cal quarterback came up short but was drilled by Sinclair, who was flagged for targeting on the play and ejected.

Mendoza was helped off the field and missed the remainder of the drive then returned for the following series. He capped his second drive back with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Hunter.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears kept their bowl hopes alive and need to beat UCLA next week for their first three-game winning streak since 2019 to get into the postseason. Mendoza wasn't his sharpest but made enough plays to keep Cal's offense moving. As long as Ott remains healthy, he is one of the best backs in the Pac-12 and continues to prove it weekly.

Stanford: First-year coach Troy Taylor remains winless in the Big Game. The former Cal QB was 0-1-1 playing against Stanford and now dropped his first game as a coach in the matchup. Joshua Karty kicked three field goals for the Cardinal.

UP NEXT

Stanford: Hosts Notre Dame on Saturday. The two teams have split 18 all-time matchups in Stanford.

California: Travels to play at UCLA next Saturday in the final Pac-12 matchup between the two long-time rivals.

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