Football notebook: Sonny Dykes takes blame for failed fake punt play against UCLA

Whether or not it was an early sign of panic, Cal coach Sonny Dykes took the blame for a failed fake punt play in the second quarter that led to a UCLA field goal.

Dykes called for punter Harry Adolphus to run on fourth-and-10 from the Bears’ 25-yard line, trailing 20-3 with six minutes left in the half. The English rugby player was stopped well short of the first down.

“Bad call on my part,” Dykes said. “We had three to block one and we didn’t get it done.”

Everything happened fast for Adolphus, a veteran on the Cal rugby team but a first-year American football player.

“I had a read to make. I made the read and there was one guy coming at me. I looked good, and then they just had two guys come over the top,” he said.

Asked if he was surprised to get the call to run the fake, Adolphus said, “I’m new to the game so I just do what I’m told. I’m in the right place at the right time, hopefully.”


Cal had no turnovers against the Bruins after committing six at Utah in a 30-24 loss 12 days earlier. Goff, intercepted five times by the Utes, was 32 for 53 for 295 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his career total to 73.

He also was sacked five times, four of them in the second half when the Bears were trying to rally through the air.

“The key was getting that quarterback on the ground,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said of Goff. “He is a great player. In the second half, we got him on the ground.”

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Football: UCLA 40, Cal 24


A promising Cal football season took a sharp turn in the wrong direction Thursday night at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA scored on all six of its first-half possessions and the 20th-ranked Bears never recovered in a 40-24 loss that calls into question much of what was accomplished during a 5-0 start to the season.

Now 5-2 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play after consecutive losses in prime-time ESPN games, Cal was competitive 12 days earlier in a 30-24 road loss to unbeaten No. 3 Utah. The Bears never gave themselves a chance against the Bruins.

But quarterback Jared Goff, who threw three touchdown passes, vowed things will different starting a week from Saturday at home USC.

“We’re not going to let this ruin our season,” he said. “I promise you this: We’re going to be a different team next week. It’s going to be a lot better from here on.”

The Bears haven’t beaten the Trojans since 2003, when Aaron Rodgers was their quarterback.

“Our guys are hurt and not happy with the way we performed,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “We’ll come back with a better sense of purpose and we’ll play well against USC.”

The question is why they didn’t play better on Thursday night after getting five extra days to prepare.

UCLA (5-2, 2-2) was coming off consecutive losses, including a 21-point thrashing at the hands of Stanford a week earlier. But it was the Bruins who came out of the gate fast.

Freshman Josh Rosen threw three touchdown passes, two of them in the first half when Ka’imi Fairbairn also kicked four field goals, including a 60-yarder on the final play of the half for a 26-10 UCLA lead.

“It was a frustrating game all across the board,” Goff conceded. “We just started too slow. If we want to beat good teams like this we’ve got to start faster.”

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Football notes: Cal still awaits a win on road vs. Top-5 foe

Cal’s 30-24 defeat at No. 5 Utah was the Bears’ 25th straight road loss to teams ranked in the top-5 of the AP Top-25.

The Bears’ most recent road victory over a top-5 foe was a 20-7 win at No. 3 Stanford in 1951. They also missed a chance to start 3-0 in the conference for the first time since 2006, when they won a Pac-10 co-championship.


Running back Daniel Lasco, who had played just one half over the previous three games because of a hip injury, fumbled on his first carry in the first quarter and did not play on offense again.

“We just didn’t feel like he was ready to play, physically,” Dykes said.


Jared Goff’s 340 passing yards boosted his career total to 9,451 to rank 17th in Pac-12 history. Goff, who turns 21 on Wednesday of the bye week, moved ahead of former Stanford great John Elway (9,349 yards).


Cal freshman nickel back Trey Turner had his first career interception in the first half. Linebacker Devante Downs had an interception and forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Caleb Coleman as the Bears hiked their season takeaway total to 21.

The Bears entered the week leading the nation with 18 takeways and got three more against a team that had turned the ball over just four times in four games.


Defensive end Kyle Kragen had a career-high 14 tackles, including his fifth sack of the season. But that was the only sack logged by the Bears, who entered the game averaging a conference-best 3.6 per game.


Football: Cal cannot overcome mistakes in loss to No. 5 Utah

With the nation watching, quarterback Jared Goff threw five interceptions Saturday night as No. 23 Cal melted under the spotlight in a 30-24 loss to No. 5 Utah.

“I played probably the worst game of my life tonight . . . and we still had a chance to win,” Goff said after the matchup of the Pac-12’s final two unbeaten teams.

Touted all week by national commentators as a Heisman Trophy contender, Goff threw four interceptions in the first half. No. 5 came with 7:24 left when he underthrew Kenny Lawler and was picked off by Dominique Hatfield at the Utah 18-yard line.

Cal got the ball one last time at its own 5-yard line with 4:52 left, and Goff made the Utes sweat. He converted three third-down plays to extend the drive, using his arm and his legs to drive his team to the Utah 21.

“Throughout the game I had no doubt we were going to make plays to win the game,” senior safety Stefan McClure said. “When they were moving the ball on that last drive, that’s what we expected.”

“Their quarterback might be the best pocket passer in the nation,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

But on fourth-and-5 with 26 seconds left, Utah’s Boobie Hobbs stepped in front of Darius Powe to knock down Goff’s final pass of the night.

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Football: Cal vs. Utah facts

RECORDS: No. 23 Cal 5-0, 2-0 Pac-12; No. 5 Utah 4-0, 1-0.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:15 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.


SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 5-4. Utah won 49-27 in the most recent meeting in 2012.

STORYLINES: The Bears take aim at their best start since 1950, when they opened 9-0. To get there, they must beat a top-5 team for the first time since their 34-31 triple-overtime win over USC in 2003. Cal has gone 5-0 six times since ’50 without a win in its sixth game. . . . Cal has not beaten a top-5 team on the road since a 20-7 conquest of No. 3 Stanford in 1951. . . . The Bears’ next victory makes them bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. . . . Perhaps no team in the country has two wins that compare to Utah’s 24-17 victory over Michigan and its 62-20 win at Oregon. . . . Cal has held consecutive Pac-12 opponents under 30 points for the first time since October 2012.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: DE DeVante Wilson (foot), DT Mustafa Jalil (knee) and RB Daniel Lasco (hip) will play; OT Brian Farley (ankle) is probable. Utah: DE Hunter Dimick (knee) will play; NT Travis Tuiloma (knee) is out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal takeaways vs. Utah keep-aways. Can the Bears continue to deliver the aggressive, opportunistic defense that has allowed them to thrive this season? Utah won’t make that easy. The Bears are the NCAA leaders with 18 takeaways, but the Utes have turned the ball over just four times. Cal leads the Pac-12 with 3.6 sacks per game, but Utah has surrendered just one sack all season.

STATS THAT MATTER: Utah is expecting its 34th consecutive sellout and already this season has played in front of two of the eight biggest crowds in Rice-Eccles history, including the record 47,825 for the opener against Michigan. . . . Cal QB Jared Goff has 20 multiple-touchdown games in his career, including every game this season. . . . With 22 career touchdown catches, Kenny Lawler is one shy of matching Wesley Walker (1973-76) for third on Cal’s career list. . . . Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, who has passed for 513 yards and rushed for 200 in three games, is No. 1 in ESPN’s Total QBR rankings. But the Utes rank 126th out of 127 teams nationally in yards per completion at 9.48.


Football: Cal’s victory by the numbers

No. 24 Cal’s 34-28 win over Washington State was its first victory as a ranked team since a 35-21 victory at Minnesota on Sept. 19, 2009.

Along the way, the Bears put up some special numbers:

— They recorded seven sacks, the most they’ve had in a game since racking up nine in the 2005 Big Game.

— They now have 18 sacks on the season — two more than the Bears totaled all of last season.

— Senior defensive end Kyle Kragen logged 2.5 sacks, giving him 4.0 the past two weeks.

— Damariay Drew’s interception was the 10th this season by Cal. The Bears had 12 in 2014.

— With three fumble recoveries, Cal’s takeaway total through five games is 18. That’s one more than all of last season.

— Jared Goff’s four touchdown passes boosts his career total to 68 in 29 games. He’s tied for 18th on the all-time Pac-12 list.

— Goff’s season stats: 125 for 178 (70.2 percent) for 1,630 yards, with 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. His 9,111 career passing yards place him 21st in Pac-12 history.

— Kenny Lawler caught 6 passes for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns, giving him 27 catches for 399 yards and 8 TDs this season. Dating back to the BYU game last fall, Lawler has 11 touchdowns in his past six games.


Football notebook: Bears embrace Damariay Drew’s return

Safety Damariay Drew, playing as a non-scholarship player after resolving his legal issues and being reinstated this fall by the university, had a late interception for Cal for the second straight week.

His pick at the 10-yard line with 3:29 left snuffed out of Washington State’s last real threat in the Bears’ 34-28 win.

Drew attended Butte JC last year while resolving issues that arose for an assault incident on campus in the spring of 2014. He got the charges reduced, did community service and took anger management classes and was allowed back at Cal.

“I’m just really excited to be back,” he said in his first media availability of the season. “We’re doing great right now. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team.”

Said Cal coach Sonny Dykes: “He’s matured. I’m proud he’s made the most of his second chance. He’s playing lights out for us. He looks like a missile out there playing.”

Fellow safety Stefan McClure said Drew’s return to the team has been critical to the performance of the defense.

“It means a lot. You see how he flies around. He’s real physical,” McClure said. “I look at him as the tone-setter.

“He’s a good guy. It’s great to see him doing well and watch him grow up.”


Daniel Lasco returned to action after sitting two games with a hip muscle strain, but ran for just 22 yards on 10 carries before being held out of the second half. He did not reinjure himself, Dykes said, but never developed a rhythm.

Lasco called it a coach’s decision and seemed fine with it.

“I felt real good. I just didn’t have that same pop I had before I got hurt,” he said. “Me and the coaches talked at halftime. We’ve got plenty of great backs. It gave me another week to get 100 percent.”


Kenny Lawler caught his seventh and eighth touchdowns of the season despite battling a stomach ailment that had him throwing up much of the day, Dykes said. “Something I ate last night,” Lawler said.

Lawler had a one-handed TD catch in the first half and now has 22 scoring receptions for his career. That ties him for fourth with DeSean Jackson (2005-07) on Cal’s all-time, one behind Wesley Walker (1973-76).

Sean Dawkins (1990-92) holds the Cal career TD reception record at 31.


Football: Cal holds off WSU, 34-28

Safety Damariay Drew’s pass interception with 3½ minutes left helped No. 24 Cal stay unbeaten on Saturday with a shaky 34-28 victory over Washington State in front of 42,042 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Jared Goff completed two third-down passes on the ensuing possession and the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) went on to equal their best start since 1950. They hadn’t been 5-0 since 2007 and will need to win on the road against No. 10 Utah next Saturday to reach 6-0 for the first time since the Pappy Waldorf era.

A year after outlasting the Cougars (2-2, 0-1) in a back-and-forth 60-59 marathon in Pullman, Washington, the Bears used seven sacks and three takeaways to overcome an uneven performance by the offense.

Drew, who did not attend Cal a year after an assault charge for an on-campus incident in the spring of 2014, stepped in front of WSU receiver Tyler Baker to pick off Luke Falk’s pass at the 10-yard line with 3:29 left.

The Cougars got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with 12 seconds left, but their comeback ran out of time.

Goff passed for 390 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the school’s career leader in that category with 68. Kenny Lawler caught two of the TDs, giving him 22 for his career.

But the Bears’ run game was erratic and Cal turned the ball over twice.

The Bears took a 34-28 lead into the fourth quarter after an action-packed third period.

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Football: Cal vs. WSU facts

RECORDS: Cal 4-0, 1-0 Pac-12; Washington State 2-1, 0-0.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

TV/RADIO: Pac-12 Networks/810-AM

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 45-26-5. The Bears have won nine of the past 10 meetings, including 60-59 at Pullman, Wash., last season.

STORYLINES: The No. 24 Bears try to improve to 5-0, which would match their best start since 1950, when Cal opened 9-0. The Bears have started 5-0 six times over the past 65 seasons, most recently in 2007. A win sends the Bears into the toughest stretch of their schedule, beginning Oct. 10 at Utah. . . . Cal & WSU played one of the craziest games in the country last season, with the Bears surviving an NCAA-record passing performance by WSU quarterback Connor Halliday to win when the Cougars missed a 19-yard field goal in the final seconds.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: RB Daniel Lasco (hip), DE DeVante Wilson (foot) and Saf Griffin Piatt (knee) will play; OT Brian Farley (ankle) is questionable. Washington State: DB Isaac Dotson (concussion) is probable; WR C.J. Dimry (undisclosed), Saf Suli Hameed (undisclosed), DE T.J. Fehoko (undisclosed) and K Matt Abramo (undisclosed) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal quarterback Jared Goff vs. WSU cornerback Marcellus Pippins. The two first met three years ago in the North Coast Section Division III championship game, won 31-28 by Goff’s Marin Catholic High in a rainstorm. Pippins, who has one of WSU’s two interceptions this season, was part of an El Cerrito High secondary that helped limit Goff to 110 passing yards. But Goff also ran for 77 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown.

STATS THAT MATTER: Goff’s next touchdown pass will the 65th of his career, breaking the record he currently shares with Kyle Boller (1999-2002) for most in school history. . . . Cal enters the game as the NCAA leader in takeaways with 14. . . . Cal & WSU combined for 1,401 yards of total offense last season, including 1,261 through the air. The game featured eight touchdowns in the third quarter alone. . . . Cal’s most recent win as a ranked team came more than six years ago, on Sept. 19, 2009 against Minnesota.


Football: Improved Cal pass defense faces test in WSU

One year after allowing 42 touchdown passes – the most ever surrendered by a Football Bowl Subdivision team – the Cal defense has assembled this startling statistic:

Through four games, the No. 24 Bears have as many interception returns for touchdowns (2) as touchdown passes allowed.

The challenge will be substantially tougher Saturday when the Bears (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) take on Washington State (2-1, 0-0) at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m.

After facing a series of opponents with immature passing games, Cal gets a look at one of the nation’s most prolific air attacks. A year ago, in a 60-59 Cal win, Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday threw six touchdowns and set an NCAA single-game record with 734 passing yards.

“This is going to be the real true test of how well we can defend the pass,” senior safety Stefan McClure added. “It’s been exciting to see how confident this group has been. I’m eager to see how we’re going to match up and how we’re going to respond to the challenge.”

“They’re as good as anyone in the country throwing the football,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said.

The Bears are aiming for their first 5-0 start since 2007 after posting road wins at Texas and Washington. The schedule ramps up considerably beginning next week, when Cal plays consecutive games against Utah, UCLA, USC and Oregon – three of them on the road.

For now, the Cougars passing game provides challenge enough.

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