After a Big Game victory, the Stanford Axe returns home

The Stanford Axe is back home after a Big Game victory Nov. 27.

The Cardinal blocked a would-be tying extra point by the Cal in the final minute of Big Game Nov. 27 to take back the Axe trophy and beat the Bears 24-23.

The victory was achieved at Cal’s Memorial Stadium without the benefit of the traditional crowds because of safety precautions designed to stem the spread of COVID-19. But the game still featured all the excitement of the classic rivalry it is.

That was especially true when defensive end THOMAS BOOKER, a junior economics major from Maryland, got a hand on a Cal point-after-attempt in the waning minutes of the game. The resulting blocked kick sealed the win and sent the Cardinal cheering and celebrating along their sideline. Once the clock ran out, Stanford players danced and hooted and hollered some more on Cal’s home turf in Memorial Stadium.

Traditionally, one of the most anticipated traditions of Big Game is the presentation of the Stanford Axe to the winning team after a stare-down between students from each school. That tradition was altered, as were many others.

For instance, fountains around the Stanford campus were not dyed the usual red. Hoover Tower was not bathed in red lights. Members of the Axe Committee did not camp out in the ‘Birdcage,’ a platform with a tent built in White Plaza, for as many hours as there are Big Games. Because the Big Game is in its 123rd year, they would have camped for 123 hours.

None of that happened this year as the pandemic continues.

Instead, in the final minutes of the game, two members each of the Cal Rally Committee and Stanford Axe Committee – typically 5-10 members each – briefly met to stare at each other with masks on and at least six feet apart until the game ended. Axe Committee chairman CARLINO CUONO, a coterm in civil and environmental engineering, and longtime Axe steward JON ERICKSON, director of Stanford Stadium, accepted the Axe back from Cal, which won Big Game last year.

In theory, the players were not supposed to touch the Axe due to COVID-19 protocols. But exuberance took over.

The Axe has now returned to Stanford. It is generally displayed in the Home of Champions. But all Erickson will say is that the beloved Stanford Axe is in “a safe place.”

Stanford next travels to Washington for a game this Saturday at 1 p.m. on Fox. Go Cardinal.

Read more on the Stanford Athletics website.