SAN FRANCISCO -- Isi Sofele rushed for a career-high 193 yards on 23 carries, C.J. Anderson chipped in with 96 yards on 14 carries and California's defense held Oregon State's offense to just six points on six trips inside the 30, as the Bears defeated the Beavers 23-6 at AT&T Park on Saturday to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2009.
There was more at stake for Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12), than gaining its sixth win of the season. OSU (2-8, 2-5 Pac-12) players made sure that pride was also part of the stakes.
During the week news reports quoted various Beavers claiming Bear Territory as Beaver Territory, so it didn't take much for the players wearing blue and gold to get up for their final home game of the season. Then again, it was also Senior Day for the Bears.
Oregon State began the game trying to back up their talk, but their first possession would end up being a foreshadowing of things to come for the Beavers.
Oregon State didn't waste any time getting into field goal position. Kick returner Brandin Cooks started the game with a 44-yard game-opening return to give the Beavers a start at the Cal 49-yard line.
Quarterback Sean Mannion led Oregon State on a seven-play, 34 yard drive that culminated with a 32-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine just 4:15 into the game.
The Bears' first drive ended on a third-and-seven pass that was thrown short by Maynard to targeted receiver Marvin Jones. The underthrown ball led to an interception by Beavers safety Lance Mitchell. It was Maynard's first interception thrown since the loss to UCLA on Oct. 29, in Pasadena.
After Mitchell returned the interception to the Oregon State 39-yard line, Mannion and the offense came on and threatened to score again. The Beavers would travel to the Cal 30-yard line before Bears' defensive lineman Trevor Guyton broke through the line for a drive-stopping sack for a loss of 10 yards.
Facing a 57-yard field goal attempt, Beaver head coach Mike Riley chose to punt, but Guyton's sack proved to inspire the Golden Bears offense.
On first-and-10 from their own nine-yard line, Sofele broke off a 56-yard run to put the Bears on the Oregon State 35-yard line. Sofele would gain 14 more yards on the drive, and Maynard would redeem himself with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Calvin to complete the six-play, 91-yard drive.
Now up 7-3 with momentum going their way, Cal special teams got into the mix. On the ensuing kickoff return, Cooks was hit and spun around by Stefan McClure. The ball came loose at the Beavers' 20-yard line, and fellow defensive back Sean Cattouse recovered the ball at the Beavers' 17-yard line. Upon further review, it was ruled that Cooks' 'backside' hit the ground prior to the fumble -- giving the ball back to Oregon State at their own 20-yard line.
The Beavers went three and out, thanks in large part to another quarterback sack -- this time by defensive lineman Ernest Owusu.
After California's possession didn't bear fruit, disaster struck defensive back Michael Coley on the punt. On his way to make the tackle on punt returner Jordan Poyer, his right foot was bent underneath him with the toe 90 degrees out of position. Coley was carted off the field to a loud chorus of cheering fans and teammates while a trainer stabilized his foot.
Head coach Jeff Tedford described the injury as a dislocated ankle in his postgame press conference.
The injury didn't deter the Bears from their focus. Aided by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, Cal took the ball from the four-yard line, and drove 96 yards on more than a dozen plays and scored on an option run by Maynard.
The 16-play drive was filled with penalties -- two personal fouls by the Beavers that helped continue the Bears' drive, two false starts on the offensive line and a holding penalty on center Dominic Galas.
The score put Cal up 14-3 with just 1:06 remaining in the first half, but Oregon State would use the final minute wisely. Mannion led the Beavers on a seven-play, 43-yard drive in 1:02 that ended with a 46-yard field goal by Romaine to close the gap, 14-6.
The halftime break did nothing to cool down the Bears offense. Cal's opening possession of the second half featured Sofele on the ground. The tailback rushed four times for 42 yards, and capped the 5:04, 11-play scoring drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
On the scoring run, Sofele took a pitch left, found a big hole between the guard and tackle, and veered back towards the middle of the field to reach the end zone untouched.
Down 20-6 after the missed PAT, Mannion and the Beavers didn't flinch. After a 28-yard kick return by Cooks gave OSU field position at their 40 yard line, the visiting team rushed three times for 25 yards, and Markus Wheaton gained 18 yards on a Mannion strike to the Cal 17 yard line.
Before the Beavers could score, the Cal defense came up big. On second-and-11 from the Cal 18-yard line, Mannion threw over the middle to the goal line. Cornerback Steve Williams leapt over the Oregon State receiver and got his left hand on the ball. The ball bounced up, and safety D.J. Campbell came down with the interception at the Bears' four yard line.
The possession was the Beavers' fourth that went beyond the Cal 30-yard line, and the second of the four that resulted in zero points on the night.
The Bears began making mistakes of their own. Towards the end of the third quarter, a 44-yard rushing touchdown by Anderson was taken off the board due to a holding call on Matt Summers-Gavin.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter during a punt to Oregon State, Williams stood right in the face of Beavers' return man Poyer, and was called for a kick catch interference penalty to put the ball on Oregon State 31 yard line. On the first play of the possession, Williams was flagged again for pass interference.
The Beavers would continue to move the ball down into Cal territory, and would get more help from Williams. After an incomplete pass by Mannion into the end zone on third-and-nine, Williams was again called for pass interference. The penalty gave Oregon State a new set of downs on the Bears two-yard line.
That's right where the Cal defense wanted them. The Beavers ran two plays up the middle for just one yard, and on the third play, Mannion was hit running to the left of the line and fumbled the ball -- senior defensive back Cattouse recovered it at the Cal three yard line with 11:21 remaining in the game.
The next 8:58 was taken off the clock by Cal's running game, as Sofele, Anderson and freshman Brendan Bigelow salted away the game on 11 carries for 86 yards, which led to a 32-yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio to put the Bears up 23-6 with just 2:23 remaining in the contest.
Anderson led the crew, rushing five times for 48 yards, followed by Sofele's 30 yards on five carries, and Bigelow chipped in with a carry for eight yards.
The Beavers made an attempt to get another score, but after getting beyond the Cal 30-yard line for a sixth time in the game, All Pac-12 linebacker Mychal Kendricks put an end to the drive with an interception at the 20 yard line.
Now the Bears will travel to Stanford to end their two-game Big Game winning streak.
-- Senior Day attendance at AT&T Park was 39,602.
-- Keenan Allen's first catch of the game put him in sole possession of third on Cal's single season receptions list. After finishing the game with three receptions, he now has 78 pass catches on the season.
-- That first catch also extended Allen's consecutive games with a catch string to 21 - one in each game of his career.
-- Jones also extended his consecutive games with a catch streak (35 games) with a second-quarter reception for eight yards.
-- Sofele's 56-yard run in the first quarter was the longest of his career and the longest by a Cal player for the season. Sofele's previous long was 39 yards in the season opener versus Fresno State.
-- Sofele reached the 100-yard mark after just 10 carries in the game. It was the fourth time this season the junior tailback from Utah reached the century mark this season.
-- Calvin, a fifth-year senior scored his first career touchdown in the second quarter.
-- Cal's 16-play, 96-yard second-half opening drive was a season best in both categories and it was the fifth drive of 90 or more yards this season and second time this game.
-- Tavecchio's PAT miss in the third quarter was the sixth time this season he missed what is normally an automatic point.
-- Campbell's third-quarter interception was his second of his career.
-- For the first time since 2009, Cal rushed for over 200 yards in two consecutive games. This year, it was at home against Washington State and OSU. In '09, Cal pulled off the feat at UCLA and verse Washington State.
-- Sofele became the ninth Cal running back in the last 10 years to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a season. He finished the game with 1,029 yards for the year.
-- Anderson could have had a much bigger day. The junior transfer had two touchdown runs called back due to holding. The first run was a 44-yard highlight-worthy play and the second was a 19-yarder down the right sideline. Had the two plays stood up, he would have finished the game with 16 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns.