Kenny Lawler

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Cal WR Kenny Lawler entering NFL Draft

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Following a successful junior season, California wide receiver Kenny Lawler will forgo his senior season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

Lawler announced his intention on his Twitter account. ESPN’s Joe Schad first reported the news.

Cal head coach Sonny Dykes released the following statement commending Lawler for his three years in Berkeley.

A native of Pomona, Calif., Lawler caught 52 passes for 658 yards and snagged 13 touchdowns, second-most in the Pac-12. He closed his college career by snaring five receptions for 75 yards and three touchdowns in an Armed Forces Bowl defeat of Air Force.

Lawler was a First Team All-Pac-12 selection this fall.

Jared Goff strafes Air Force, leads Cal to first bowl win since 2008

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If this was indeed Jared Goff‘s last game in a Cal uniform, he made it a statistically memorable — and record-breaking — finale that came at the expense of Air Force.

Expected to leave his remaining eligibility on the table and make himself available for the NFL draft next April, Goff riddled the service academy’s air defense systems throughout the afternoon, setting Armed Forces Bowl records with 467 yards passing and six passing touchdowns in leading the Golden Bears to a 55-36 win over the Falcons.  The win was Cal’s first in a bowl game since dropping Miami (Fla.) in the 2008 Emerald Bowl.

Goff has now thrown for 300 or more yards 22 times — 10 this season in 13 games — in his three-year career as Cal’s starting quarterback.  He’s also gone over 400 yards eight times and surpassed 500 on three different occasions.  It was also the fifth time he’s thrown five or more touchdowns in a single game, including each of the last two.

In the process, Goff, expected to be in a fight with Memphis’ Paxton Lynch for the right to be the first quarterback selected in the draft, broke the Pac-12 single-season records for passing yards (4,719) and passing touchdowns (43), the latter of which was set by Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (42) during his Heisman run last season.  The yardage record was previously held by Oregon State’s Sean Mannion (4,662 in 2013).

The last two games alone, Goff passed for 1,009 yards as he threw for a career-high 542 yards in the regular-season finale against Arizona State.  He totaled 11 touchdowns in those two contests for good measure, a number that’s more than 13 FBS teams have thrown for all season.

Three of Goff’s scoring tosses on the day came in the second quarter as Cal took a 35-21 lead into the halftime locker room.  That was as close as the Falcons would get the rest of the way as they were outscored 20-15 over the final two quarters in what turned into their third bowl loss in their last four postseason trips.

Kenny Lawler caught three of Goff’s touchdowns, while Bryce Treggs accounted for 143 receiving yards.  Nine different Golden Bears caught passes as Goff completed 25-of-37 passes in putting up a season-high passer rating of 227.1.

Air Force, champions of the MWC’s Mountain division, finishes 2015 at 8-6.  The 18 wins for the Falcons the last two years (10-3 in 2014) are the most in back-to-back seasons for the program since they won 22 in 1997 and 1998.

UCLA starts strong, gives Cal some life at end of half

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Riding a two-game losing streak, UCLA, through 28 minutes, was very much looking like a team that had no intention of making it three in a row. The last two minutes, though, show there’s still some work to do.

With two quarters in the books, UCLA is dominating Cal in every facet of the game but still takes “just” a 26-10 lead into halftime.  UCLA came into the Pac-12 matchup having lost two in a row, to Arizona State and Stanford, by a combined 36 points.

While Cal opened the scoring on a field goal early in the first, UCLA proceeded to rip off the next 23 points.  The Bears, though, head-scratchingly gift-wrapped the final three points for the Bruins.

Trailing 20-3 with just under six minutes remaining in the second and facing a fourth-and-10 from their own 25-yard line, Cal inexplicably attempted a fake punt.  Once the laughter from the Bruins’ punt return unit subsided and they regained their bearings, Bears punter Harry Adolphus was stopped for a four-yard gain to turn the ball back over to the Bruins.

Cal dodged what could’ve been a significant bullet, however, as UCLA couldn’t punch it in from the three on three plays and had to settle for a 20-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal. On the ensuing possession, the Bears marched 75 yards down the field and cut the lead to 23-10 with just under a minute remaining on a Jared Goff one-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler.

The Bruins weren’t done, however, as Fairbairn kicked a school-record 60-yard field goal as time ran out in the quarter.  It was Fairbairn’s fourth field goal of the half.

The Bruins produced 357 yards of offense, while the defense held the normally high-powered Bears to just 170. True freshman Josh Rosen accounted for 238 of the Bruins’ yardage through the air, and provided both Bruin touchdowns in the half.

One thing to keep an eye on in the second half is the health of Paul Perkins.  The star UCLA running back sustained an injury to his left knee late in the second quarter and didn’t return to the contest.  His availability for the remainder of the game is unknown.

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

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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.