Cal bowl eligible after 23-6 win over OSU

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Cal bowl eligible after 23-6 win over OSU

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Isi Sofele rushed for a career-high 190 yards and one touchdown, quarterback Zach Maynard threw for one score and ran for another, and California beat Oregon State 23-6 on Saturday night.The win, the Golden Bears' third in four games, makes them bowl eligible after sitting out the postseason last year. It also snapped Cal's four-game losing streak to the Beavers.Backup running back C.J. Anderson ran for 96 yards and wide receiver Michael Calvin, a fifth-year senior, caught his first career touchdown for the Bears, who overcame a season-high 15 penalties in their final game at AT&T Park. Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) will move back home to Memorial Stadium, which underwent a 321 million facelift, for the 2012 season.Sean Mannion passed for 247 yards for Oregon State (2-8, 2-5), but the Beavers turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard line.Sofele, whose previous high of 138 yards was set in last week's win over Washington State, easily eclipsed that mark while anchoring a ground game that dominated the last-place Beavers.Cal outgained Oregon State 296-27 on the ground and held the ball for more than 36 minutes while beating the Beavers for the first time since Sept. 30, 2006.The Bears had not won at home in this 106-year-old rivalry since 1997 but easily handled the Beavers, who have dropped three straight.It could have been worse.Sofele had a 29-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty, and Anderson had scoring runs of 44 and 19 yards wiped out by yellow flags.Cal's defense made sure it didn't matter by forcing three turnovers in the second half.Cornerback D.J. Campbell intercepted a deflected pass by Mannion at the Bears 4-yard line to stop one drive, safety Sean Cattouse recovered a fumble at the 3 and linebacker Mychal Kendricks picked off a Mannion pass with 32 seconds left to end the Beavers' night.Mannion played well but got little help from the rest of Oregon State's offense. Several of Mannion's passes were dropped, while the 27 rushing yards were the second-fewest by the Beavers this season.Maynard got off to a shaky start before he got the Bears rolling with a pair of long scoring drives.Cal's junior quarterback, who was knocked out of last week's win over Washington State after getting hit in the head while trying to recover a fumble, was intercepted by Oregon State safety Lance Mitchell on an underthrown pass early in the first quarter.After they punted and pinned the Bears at their own 9-yard line, Sofele got them out of the hole quickly with a 56-yard burst up the middle on a trap play. Sofele ran twice more for 13 yards and Maynard completed one pass and took a sack before finding Calvin for a 19-yard touchdown.Maynard later directed a 96-yard scoring march that took nearly nine minutes off the clock.Cal overcame three penalties on the drive, including back-to-back holding calls inside the Beavers 10-yard line, but got a big break when Oregon State linebacker Rusty Fernando hit Keenan Allen in the back of the head with his forearm after Allen had been stopped well short of the end zone on a third-and-goal play.That gave the Bears an automatic first down, and Maynard made it pay off when he scampered into the end zone on a keeper around the left side to make it 14-3.The Beavers cut the gap to 14-6 on Trevor Romaine's second field goal of the game, a 46-yarder with 2 seconds left in the half.Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers caught six passes for 76 yards. He needs three receptions over the next two games to break the school's single-season record held by Mike Hass.Notes: Cal's defense was missing both of its starting outside linebackers. Chris McCain suffered a concussion last week against Washington State and did not suit up, while David Wilkerson's bruised knee kept him on the sidelines. ... Members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen were honored before the game.

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

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AP

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

Last week both Stanford and Cal held “Pro Day,” an annual showcase where each school’s departing players audition for NFL scouts. 

To those unfamiliar with Pro Days, these events typically feature lots of men with stopwatches, a few TV news crews, and a group of players running 40-yard dashes, cone drills and 20-yard shuttles. The objective is to give NFL teams an opportunity to evaluate prospects up close and personal.

Since 1982, the top 300 or so prospects in the country have been invited each year to the NFL Scouting Combine, a centralized evaluation for all pro teams. Subsequent Pro Days held by individual schools provide a stage for players who weren’t invited to the combine. They also offer participants a chance to improve their combine performance or give interested teams another look.

At Cal’s Pro Day on Friday, Khalfani Muhammad turned a lot of heads with a 4.35 40-yard dash, faster than any running back recorded at the combine earlier this month. In fact, Muhammad’s time would have tied for fourth best overall. Wide receiver Chad Hansen also impressed with a 4.45 in the driving rain. Quarterback Davis Webb, who had some accuracy issues at the combine, had a good outing despite throwing a wet ball for much of the day. His predecessor, Jared Goff, was the No. 1 pick in last year’s NFL draft.

Stanford’s “Pro Timing Day” on Thursday attracted a lot of attention because of the presence of two projected first round draft picks — running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Over 40 NFL representatives were on hand, including 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Carolina Panthers head man Ron Rivera. Several sportswriters and local TV anchors covered the proceedings, which were also streamed live on ESPN3.

It was a far cry from the pre-Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw days, when Stanford had few pro prospects and Pro Days drew sparse turnouts. However, 31 Stanford players have been drafted in the last seven years, including four in the first round and six in the second. McCaffrey and Solomon will boost those numbers.

McCaffrey has been the Cardinal’s marquee player for the past two seasons. He set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards in 2015, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and then rushed for 1,639 yards in ’16. Thomas had 25 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in the last two seasons and was named the Pac-12’s defensive lineman of the year last fall.

Surprisingly, most pundits now believe Thomas will go higher than McCaffrey in the draft. McCaffrey is currently projected to go middle or late first round. Thomas is expected to go in the top five. In fact, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper now has Thomas being taken with the No. 2 pick in the draft by that team down the road in Santa Clara.

NFL teams are split as to whether McCaffrey can be an every down back. Some see him as more of a complimentary, third-down type. At the combine, he excelled in the 40-yard dash (4.48), vertical jump (37.5”), cone drill (6.57) and both 20 and 60-yard shuttles (4.22 and 11.03), but did only 10 reps in the bench press. His overall rating at the combine was 5.99 (out of a possible 8.0). At Pro Day on Thursday, he put on a brilliant display in a number of receiving drills, showing off the versatility that many teams crave.

Thomas was one of the top performers at the combine, registering a 4.69 40, 30 reps in the bench press, a 126” broad jump, 6.95 cone drill and 4.28 shuttle. His overall rating was 6.85. On Pro Day, he did a number of position specific drills.

Unlike McCaffrey, who elected to skip the Cardinal’s post-season game, Thomas played in the Sun Bowl and elevated his pro stock with several game-changing plays. The NFL’s post-combine analysis noted: “Thomas' bowl performance against North Carolina opened a lot of eyes, as he was all over the field in the Cardinal's win in a way that isn't even reflected in an impressive stat line (seven tackles, two for loss, sack).”

According to one NFL observer at Pro Day, “In the bowl game, Thomas went from the second round to maybe the second pick in the draft.”

Stanford coach David Shaw, understandably, is a huge fan of both players. He chafes at the suggestion McCaffrey can’t be an every down back.

“People may not want to talk about it, but race is a component in that discussion,” he told me at Pro Day. “Some teams want to put Christian in a box. ‘He’s a white running back, another Danny Woodhead.’ Well, he’s not. If you look at the film, what he did at the combine, and here today, he’s more of a Reggie Bush or a Ladainian Tomlinson. He’s a difference maker.”

Shaw also marveled at Thomas’s rise up the draft boards since his Sun Bowl performance.

“That’s the beauty of bowl games,” Shaw said. “What might seem meaningless to one guy can make 10 million dollars for another.”

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

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USATSI

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

BOX SCORE

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alanna Smith's jumper with 23 seconds left capped Stanford's rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half, Erica McCall blocked a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 Sunday to reach its first Final Four since 2014.

Brittany McPhee scored 27 as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth in a row overall. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinal winning twice.

Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame's 17-game winning streak. The Irish (33-4) had a final shot, but McCall blocked Arike Ogunbowale's drive near the basket.

The win in the Lexington Regional gives Stanford a chance to pursue its third national championship under coach Tara VanDerveer.

Among those in the crowd at Rupp Arena was Jon Samuelson, whose daughter, Karlie, scored 15 for Stanford. A day earlier, he was at the Bridgeport Regional to see another daughter, UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson, help the Huskies win their 110th straight game.

Smith finished with 15 points.

Ogunbowale had 25 and Marina Mabrey 20 for Notre Dame, which had sought its sixth Final Four in seven seasons.

After driving for a basket with 51 seconds left, Smith added her biggest shot for the go-ahead score. Stanford then denied Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen and Ogunbowale on successive attempts in the final 15 seconds to spark a wild celebration.

THE BIG PICTURE:
Stanford once again proved no deficit was too big to overcome. The Cardinal shot 12 of 26 on 3-pointers, Samuelson and McPhee each making five. Not bad, considering Stanford shot 2 of 15 overall in the second quarter while getting outscored 23-7. ... McCall had 15 rebounds.

Notre Dame seemed to do everything right for most of the game but couldn't stop Stanford's perimeter game in the second half. The Irish also made just 11 of 31 shots after halftime and were topped 33-32 on the boards.

UP NEXT:
Stanford faces the South Carolina-Florida State winner in the Final Four in Dallas next weekend.