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.