Khalfani Muhammad

Getty Images

Cal handles Hawaii in Down Under opener

7 Comments

The 2016 college football season started with… an onside kick. In his first game as Hawaii’s head coach, Nick Rolovich opened with a surprise, which Cal’s Patrick Laird alertly covered. Khalfani Muhammad raced in from 34 yards out just six plays later, and it was off to the races for the Bears.

Hawaii fought back to tie the game at 7-7 and again at 14-14 late in the first quarter, but the Bears closed the first half on a 20-0 run, keyed by a pair of Davis Webb touchdown tosses, to put the game away en route to a 51-31 win. Hawaii never pulled closer than 17 points in the second half.

Played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, the game was the first-ever college contest played in Australia.

Webb dazzled in his Bears debut, hitting 38-of-54 throws for 441 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chad Hansen was his top target, collecting 14 grabs for 160 yards and two of those scores. Muhammad, meanwhile, led the Bears’ ground game with 10 carries for 96 yards and a score.

Ikaika Woolsey led Hawaii with 234 passing yards and one touchdown.

Overall, Cal achieved 630 yards of total offense (30 first downs) on 7.1 yards per play, while allowing Hawaii to gain 6.7 yards per play and 482 total yards.

Cal takes next week off before a date with San Diego State, while Hawaii must turn around and prepare for a road trip to No. 7 Michigan on Saturday.

Missed PAT costs Texas as California outduels Horns, 45-44

7 Comments

We noted at halftime that a plethora of mistakes was the only thing keeping California from holding a substantial lead over Texas. But it was one crucial mistake that cost Texas, as a Nick Rose missed PAT prematurely ended a three-touchdown rally and allowed California to hold on for a 45-44 win in Austin.

First, how they got there. Thanks to an offside penalty that cost them a fresh possession deep inside Texas territory, a fumble at the Longhorns goal line and another one near their own and, finally, a procedure penalty that led to a missed field goal, Cal – a touchdown favorite in most books – found itself down 24-14 with 1:32 to go in the first half after Johnathan Gray charged in for a six-yard touchdown run, his second of the half. But the Bears immediately marched 75 yards in four plays, capped by a one-yard Vic Enwere run, to pull within 24-21, and Jalen Jefferson stepped in front of a Jerrod Heard and raced it back to the Texas 30, leading to a 34-yard Matt Anderson field goal that knotted the game at 24-24 at the half.

Cal opened the second half by scoring touchdowns on all three of its third quarter possessions: a 42-yard march punctuated by another one-yard Enwere plunge, a three-yard Jared Goff pass to Kenny Lawler, and a 74-yard Khalfani Muhammad dash, to grab a 45-24 lead.

It was a 21-0 quarter and, in total, a 31-0 run dating back to the end of the first half that put the game completely out of reach… until it wasn’t.

Texas rallied in the fourth quarter, getting a 13-yard Heard run to pull within two scores with 13:24 to go, then a 27-yard D’Onta Foreman dash to pull within one touchdown at the three minute mark. Facing a potential game-ending 3rd-and-7 at the Texas 44, a Goff pass was dropped deep in Texas territory and the Longhorns stayed alive. Heard moved the Longhorns 81 yards in six plays, dashing 45 yards for his third score of the day, seemingly tying the game with 1:11 to go. And then Rose missed the extra point.

California recovered the onside kick and, with Texas out of timeouts, that was that. The Bears (3-0) held on for an important non-conference win, and Texas (1-2) found another way to lose a game in a half-decade full of them.

Goff completed 27-of-37 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns and one fumble, hitting nine different receivers on the night. Lawler was his top target on the night, snaring six passes for 79 yards and two scores. The Bears rushed for a combined 280 yards and three scores; Muhammad racked up 164 yards on 10 carries, and Enwere notched 73 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.

In just his second start, Heard flummoxed California on the air and the ground. The redshirt freshman connected on 20-of-31 passes for 364 yards with one interception and rushed 24 times for 163 yards and three scores with one fumble. Two weeks after Texas posted 163 yards – total – in a blowout loss at Notre Dame, Heard racked up 527 by himself. Daje Johnson grabbed five receptions for 145 yards, and Gray posted four grabs for 71 yards to go with 11 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, Texas outgained Cal 650-548 and held a 28-26 first downs advantage.

California visits Washington next week, while Texas hosts No. 25 Oklahoma State.

Jerrod Heard and Jared Goff staging a duel in Austin

Associated Press
Leave a comment

A polished, pro-style passer and a raw, athletic freshmen have meshed their styles into an entertaining display of football in Austin as Texas and California are tied at 24-24 at the half.

Four mistakes cost the Bears from holding a lead, and probably a substantial one. First, Cal recovered a kickoff deep inside Texas territory after taking a 7-0 lead, but the Bears were offside and had to re-kick. Texas promptly marched 76 yards in eight plays, capped by a two-yard Jerrod Heard run, to tie the game at seven. Next, as Khalfani Muhammad was just strides away from strolling into the end zone for Cal’s second touchdown, Longhorns safety Kevin Vaccaro separated the running back from the ball, and UT’s Antuwan Davis hopped on the loose pigskin inside the end zone. Texas marched 71 yards to set up a 27-yard Nick Rose field goal, giving Texas its first lead at 10-7.

Third, with the Texas lead at 17-14, Cal was set to go for a 4th-and-1 at the Longhorns’ 21 – a situation Cal had won every time to that point – but the Bears were flagged for too many men in the huddle. Sonny Dykes had to settle for a field goal, and Matt Anderson‘s 44-yard field goal sailed wide right. And finally, facing a 3rd-and-3 at its own 27 just before the half, Goff was sacked and stripped by Shiro Davis, and Texas’s Desmond Jackson recovered the ball at the Cal 6. Gray rushed in one play later to give Texas a 24-14.

However, don’t let that take away from the fact Texas has made Cal pay for its mistakes.

Making just his second start, Heard has burned Cal’s defense with a number of long connections, completing 11 of his 15 throws for 222 yards. Daje Johnson has receptions of 54 and 45 yards, John Burt has a 43-yard grab, and Johnathan Gray nabbed receptions of 26 and 22 yards. Heard is also Texas’s leading rusher with seven carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, while Gray nine times for 40 yards and two scores.

One key mistake cost Texas its lead, as Heard was intercepted by Jalen Jefferson inside the final minute. He returned the ball to the Texas 30, and Anderson cashed in with a game-tying 33-yard field goal with four seconds to play.

Goff has dazzled as well, hitting 20-of-27 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Eight different Bears have caught passes, led by Stephen Anderson with five grabs for 47 yards. Vic Enwere has rushed 10 times for 61 yards.

Texas will receive to open the second half.