The Cal Bears (1-1) were able to hold off the tough challenge from the FCS level Portland State Vikings (1-1). The Bears were able to overcome a poor defensive performance with big plays on offense and key turnovers to secure the 37 to 30 victory over the Vikings. The true freshman quarterback Jared Goff again looked like a potential star in the making with another big, as he went 35 for 51 for 485 yards and two touchdowns. He also took care of the football with no interceptions.
This game was supposed to be a cake walk for the Bears and a perfect chance to bounce back after last week’s tough loss at the hands of the Northwestern Wild Cats. It would start the way the Bears would have liked. The Vikings took just two plays to find the end zone on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Kieran McDonagh would find Kasey Closs for an 81 yard touchdown pass. This play would signal the Vikings’ plans to attack the Bears’ secondary down the field.
The Bears would get a solid return to set up decent field position at their own 37 yard line. A Brendan Bigelow rush and three straight Goff passes would move the Bears quickly into Portland State territory. Two plays later Khalfani Muhammed would break off a 33 yard rush to move the Bears down to the four yard line. Muhammed would finish off the touchdown on the next play with a four yard rush to knot the game back up at seven a piece.
The Vikings would strike quickly again, as they victimized the Bears defense with 75 yards on just five plays. McDonagh would move the Vikings into Bear territory on the first play of the drive with a 34 yard strike to Closs. He would then find Closs on the next play for a 14 yard gain. Shaquille Richard would rip off back to back 10 yard runs to move the Vikings into the red zone. DJ Adams would put the Vikings back up on top with a 12 yard run giving Portland State a 14 to 7 lead.
The Bears would mount a charge on their very next drive. Goff would start the drive off with a 37 yard pass to Chris Harper to get inside the opposing half of the field. An 11 yard Bigelow rush would move the Bears into the red zone and a fresh set of downs. The Bears would pick a first down on the next two plays to move inside the 10 yard line, but the drive would stall with just one yard gained on the next three plays. The Bears would settle for 25 yard field goal from Vincenzo D’Amato to cut the lead to just four points.
Portland State would test the Bears defense for the third straight drive, as they attempted to increase their lead even further. A 43 yard screen pass to Adams would set the Vikings up on the Bear’s side of the 50 yard line. The Vikings would get called for an illegal block penalty to set up a first and 22. A second straight penalty would make it first and 32. McDonagh would make it close following a 24 yard rush to set up a second and eight. The Bears defense would stiffen and stall the Vikings’ drive and force the turnover when the Vikings failed to convert on fourth down. The first quarter would end with the Vikings leading the Bears 14 to 10.
The Vikings would complete a nine play, 75 yard drive, which lasted four minutes. The methodical drive was capped off by a 25 yard run by Adams. The Vikings would miss the extra point and take a 10 point lead.
The Bears were unable to counter back with six play drive that gained just 10 yards. They would be forced to punt. The Vikings would again hit another big pass play, as McDonagh again found Closs for a 21 yard pass gain. The Bears would find new life on the very next play, as they forced a fumble and then scooped it up at their own 49 yard line. They would answer quick with a 50 yard pass from Goff to Bryce Treggs. Goff would finish off the two play drive with a one yard keeper to bring the Bears to within three.
The Bears would get the ball back following a short Portland State drive that resulted in a punt. They would plod along on a methodical, clock consuming drive with six first downs on that drive. Maurice Harris would come up with the play of the game with a highlight reel touchdown catch. Goff would fire a high bullet pass to the back of the end zone, while Harris leapt up and hauled the pass in with one outstretched hand. The play would give the Bears their first lead of the ball game, as they put the score at 24-20.
The Bears would force another turnover with an interception, as the momentum seemed to be swinging into their favor following 14 straight points following the turnover. The Bears seemed poised to strike again, as Goff hit Muhammed on huge 62 yard gain on a streak down the middle of the field to put the Bears just outside the red zone. The Bears drive would stall with and they would settle for 39 yard field goal from D’Amato to give them 17 unanswered points and a touchdown lead.
The Vikings would take over with 1:49 left in the first half, as they trailed by seven. The Vikings looked like they just wanted to run out the clock, but a 26 gain by Adams would breathe new life into the drive. McDonagh would gain 14 more with his legs to put the Vikings into Bear territory. The Vikings would get the ball down the Bears’ 28 yard line and would settle for the field goal with three seconds remaining. The field goal would pull Portland to within four points as the teams went into halftime.
The Bears would receive the opening kickoff of the second half, as they looked to start pulling away from the Vikings. Bigelow would fumble the ball on the third play of the half, which set the Vikings up with prime field position at the Cal 44 yard line.
McDonagh would waste no time with a 29 yard pass to Victor Dean on second down to bring them inside the Bears 15 yard line. McDonagh would add seven more yards on the following play to bring it down to the five. Adams would give the Vikings a first and goal from the 1 with a four gain. McDonagh would finally put the ball in the end zone on third and goal with a one yard keeper to give the Vikings a three point lead early in the third quarter.
Following back to back punts by both teams, the Bears took over at their own 25 yard line. Goff again showed off his impressive arm strength with a beautiful ball to a streaking Richard Rogers for a 75 yard touchdown on the first play of the drive. The touchdown would give the Bears a four point lead at 34-30.
The Vikings would go three and out following a drop on a potential big play by Dean on third and long. Goff and the offense would have excellent field position following the punt, which was returned to their own 40 yard line. Goff would dump the ball off to his fullback Lucus Gingold for a 19 yard gain. Three more positive gains would move the Bears into the red zone. A personal foul penalty on Portland State would move the Bears inside the Vikings’ 10 yard line. The Bears would be unable to punch it in and would settle for the 23 yard field goal to push the score to 37-30.
The Bears defense would stand tall following the field goals, as they held the Vikings to four straight punts to end the game. The offense would kill the final 4:41 remaining to lock up their first win of 2013 and the first win of Sonny Dykes career at Cal.
The story for this game was Jared Goff and the vulnerability of the defense. Goff was impressive for the second straight week, as he threw for over 400 yards for the second week in a row. His 485 yards came up 19 yards short of the Bears’ single game passing yard record. He has the two of the top three passing games in school history. Goff cleaned up his ball security, as he did not throw a single interception after throwing three the week before. The freshman is quickly making a name for himself with impressive arm strength and accuracy. As he get even more confidence and timing with his receivers, the Bears offense could become scary.
The Bears won the game despite the efforts of their defense. The defense looked awful and was gashed by a mediocre Portland State team. Portland State’s game plan was to attack the Bears vertically and challenge the corners and for the most part it was successful. McDonagh scorched the Bears’ secondary for 308 yards on just 13 completions. The ability to hit plays over the top opened up the running and they gashed the defensive front for 245 yards on the ground. The Bears are going to need to find an answer defensively, as the potent offensive of the Ohio State Buckeyes comes to Berkeley next Saturday.
Player of the Game: Jared Goff, Cal
33-51 485 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdowns