“If history repeats itself, we are winning the Big Game anyway,” said former head sports editor Ryan Chien prophetically, following The Daily Californian’s brutal 2022 Ink Bowl defeat.
Chien’s postgame comments referred to last year, when the Daily Cal’s Ink Bowl loss went hand in hand with Cal football’s win over Stanford. It’s almost as if The Daily Californian’s glory in the Ink Bowl must be ritually sacrificed in order for the Bears to claim the Axe.
The 2022 Ink Bowl began early Saturday morning. Fans of both independent student-run newspapers came from far and wide to watch. From Daily Cal staffers and alumni to Stanford Daily writers and parents, the field was electric with fans from all walks of life.
While both teams were decked out in their classic Cal blue and Stanford white uniforms respectively, the true drip came from Daily Cal offensive coordinator and football beat writer Emmanuel Macedo. Arriving in a white and blue pinstripe suit and a marmalade orange fedora, Macedo’s Tom Landry-esque getup was welcomed with cheers from the Daily Californian sideline.
Before the game began, both sides met at midfield to emphasize a zero-tolerance fighting policy — a contentious issue in years prior — as well as an agreement to keep the game lighthearted. All of that came to a screeching halt when a Stanford Daily player tackled Daily Cal wide receiver and Weekender staffer Jem Ruf, instead of going for Ruf’s flags, on the very first play of the game. Miraculously, the Stanford Daily was not ejected and the entire tone of the game shifted.
“That full body tackle was not okay,” editor in chief Kat Shok said after the game. “But our team tried very hard! Hella touchdowns!”
On the same drive, quarterback Ryan Sheehan found Leila Rosenberg on a slant and she ran through several Stanford defenders for 6. From there, the two teams started trading possessions, leading to an early 19-6 lead for the Daily Californian.
Then came more strangeness.
Stanford Daily quarterback and managing sports editor Zach Zafran scrambled for a full-field touchdown — but technically did so in an illegal manner. Per the official rulebook agreed upon by both sides, “quarterbacks can scramble or run down past the line of scrimmage if and when a play rusher passes the line of scrimmage.”
The Daily Californian didn’t send rushers at Zafran, so the play should have been deemed illegal. But miraculously, the touchdown was upheld by the referees, to the rage and disbelief of Macedo on the sidelines.
The Stanford Daily drained all of the Daily Cal’s momentum and went on to flip the script. Following the phantom touchdown, they outscored the Daily Cal 24 to 6. The opposition got two critical defensive stops at two high-leverage moments on its way to a 36-25 victory.
“This loss puts into perspective how bad it must feel when actual professionals, like Cal football, lose an important game,” Sheehan said postgame.
Simply put, the loss absolutely deflated the Daily Cal atmosphere. All they could do was watch a shirtless man hit the dance floor in a mosh pit of Stanford Daily players.
Well, it was deflating for all but one Daily Californian.
“It was a good win today! We had a few calls that didn’t break our way and that was the reason why we ‘lost.’ But you know, we keep it moving. Just keep it moving, baby,” said Daily Cal optimist and motivational speaker Justin Kim.
If there was ever a way for a team to win a game when it lost, the Daily Cal certainly did that. And despite the scoreboard loss, several Daily Cal players expressed how proud they were of the team’s hard work throughout the season and its teamwork as a unit.
“We’re going to rebuild,” Macedo said. “We’ll be back next season, we’ll be on the road but I have nothing but respect and praise for this football team.”