To say that the Calfornia Golden Bears came out flat in their 50-31 win over the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds would be an enormous understatement. By the end of the first quarter, Cal had only managed 53 yards of total offense, punted once and turned the ball over twice. It certainly wasn’t a good start to a game that should have provided the Bears with a nice rebound following their upset loss to Nevada last week.
Cal finally decided to play like they wanted to win in the second quarter, scoring on all four of their drives. Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense held the former FCS school to only 10 second quarter yards; that is, until Brad Sorensen hit on a last-second Hail Mary to cut the Bears’ lead to 20-10 at halftime.
Southern Utah found a way to move the ball again to open the second half. Their first drive was a 12-play, 75-yard march to the end zone, bringing the Thunderbirds to within 3. But after trading punting drives, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard hit Keenan Allen for a 17-yard touchdown pass and started to put the game out of reach.
Cal cornerback Marc Anthony made the play of the game on the ensuing drive. Sorensen went to throw a short pass to Henna Brown, who appeared to run the wrong route. While Henna kept running, Anthony picked the ball off and took it back 61 yards for a touchdown.
The scoring would continue for the rest of the fourth quarter, including a 77-yard touchdown run by Daniel Lasko and an Allen punt return for a touchdown (we’ll get to that in a minute). Ultimately Cal put the clamps on Southern Utah University; it just took a while to warm the engine up.
Keenan Allen: pretty good at football
On top of his 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, Allen lit Memorial Stadium on fire with his fourth quarter punt return. The punt bobbled right in and out of Allen’s hands and bounced in the direction of a Thunderbird, but Allen snatched it off the ground and wheeled around the right side of the field. From there, he was off to the races for a 61-yard score. It was one for the highlight reel and would have been the play of the game had the score not already been so lopsided.
Allen is going to be one of the top receivers in this upcoming NFL Draft, and it’s scary to think what Allen might do with a professional quarterback throwing him the ball. At one point Maynard overthrew Allen, who was wide open to make the catch, and Allen threw a fit directed at Maynard on his way back to the huddle. He made such a scene that he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
— Zach Maynard finished his day 17/23 for 229 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He was outgained by Brad Sorensen, who threw for 292 yards, but also threw the ball 45 times, completing 31 passes in the process.
— Cal got running back Isi Sofele involved in this week’s game plan and it paid off. He carried the ball 19 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. He was part of a stable of seven Bears rushers that amassed 289 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
— The Bears’ defense had a much better game stopping the run: the Thunderbirds combined for 34 carries and only managed 79 yards on the effort.
— SUU’s pass attack fared much better against Cal’s defense, stacking up 292 yards and 4 touchdowns by the end of the contest. Cal couldn’t manage to stop Fatu Moala, who caught the ball nine times for 85 yards and a touchdown.
— Cal’s next opponent: Ohio State in Ohio. Finally we won’t need a treasure map to find the network airing the game.