Cal overcame a terrible start in which it was minus-15 yards on its first two possessions to beat UC Davis 34-13 in the Bears’ season opener Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.
The star of the game was freshman running back Jayden Ott, who was a non-starter but finished with 104 yards rushing and 26 yards receiving and a touchdown catch in his college debut.
Jack Plummer started the game 0-for-3 with interceptions, but finished 23-for-35 for 268 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 152.6 passer rating in his first game as Cal’s quarterback.
The Aggies, an FCS team, took an early 7-0 lead, but Cal’s Jamison Sheehan’s 65-yard field goal in the second quarter appeared to turn things Cal’s way.
CAL 34, UC DAVIS 13
RECORDS: CAL (1-0), UC DAVIS (0-1)
PLAYER OF THE GAME, ATTACK: Jayden Ott. The Cal freshman running back had 104 yards, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and had two receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown.
PLAYER OF THE GAME, DEFENSE: Jackson Sirmon. Cal’s inside linebacker had eight tackles and threw a pass.
TURNING POINT: Cal trailed 7-0 when the Bears’ Jamison Sheehan hit a 65-yard punt that gave UC Davis the ball at its own 6-yard line. After the Aggies went three and out, Cal got the ball at its 47-yard line and punted for the tying touchdown.
KEY GAME 1: With UC Davis leading 7-0, Cal safety Daniel Scott tackled UC Davis’ Trent Tompkins for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play from the Cal 10-yard line with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
KEY GAME 2: Cal punter Jamison Sheahan launched a 65-yard punt that rolled to the UC Davis 6-yard line, and after the Aggies went three-and-out and punted, Cal took over at the 47-yard line, setting up its first touchdown drive early in the second quarter.
KEY GAME 3: mud quarterback Jack Plummer threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Hunter to cap a 53-yard drive to tie the game 7-7 with 8:54 left in the first half.
KEY GAME 4: UC Davis defensive back Devon King cut in front of Cal receiver J.Michael Sturdivant and appeared to have an interception, but it slipped through his hands and Sturdivant caught the ball for a 28-yard completion on a third-and-6 play that put the ball on the line from Cal’s 45 yards on a punt that led to a touchdown.
KEY GAME 5: On that same Cal drive, Jeremiah Hunter made a juggling catch down the sidelines, keeping one foot in, for a 27-yard gain on a second-and-18 play that put the ball on the UC Davis 20-yard line.
KEY GAME 6: On Cal’s same drive, Jayden Ott took a pass from Jack Plummer and outran a defender for an 8-yard touchdown reception that put Cal up 14-7 with 2:25 left in the first half.
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KEY GAME 7: Jaydn Ott catches a pass up the middle and makes two defenders miss for an 18-yard completion that puts the ball at the UC Davis 14-yard line with 5 seconds left. Dario Longhetto then kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final drive of the first half to give Cal a 17-7 lead.
KEY GAME 8: On the second play of the second half, Cal quarterback Craig Woodson intercepted a pass from Myles Hastings and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a 24-7 lead.
KEY GAME 9: Cal defensive back Jeremiah Irby made a leaping interception on the sideline at Cal’s 2-yard line to end UC Davis’ scoring threat late in the third quarter, keeping the lead at 27-13.
KEY GAME 10: Jack Plummer threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mavin Anderson midway through the fourth quarter to give Cal a 34-13 lead.
GAME STATISTICS: Cal quarterback Jack Plummer started the game 0-for-3 with an interception, then went 12-for-13 for 157 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions the rest of the first half.
QUARTERBACK STATISTICS: Cal’s Jack Plummer was 23-for-35, 268 yards, three touchdowns, one interception. UC Davis’ Myles Hastings was 32-for-50, 242 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions
STATISTICS BACK: Cal’s Jaydn Ott had 104 yards on 17 carries. Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. from UC Davis had 115 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: It’s a win, but it means little as Cal was a three-touchdown favorite against this FCS opponent in non-conference play. We don’t know much about Cal yet.
CAL BOWL BAROMETER: The odds for a Cal bowl berth are still around 50 percent. That win gave the Bears one of the six wins Cal needs to make the bowl game, but the Bears were expected to win this one.
NEXT GAME: UNLV (1-0) at Cal (1-0), Saturday, September 10. Kickoff: 1 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Bay Area. This will be the first meeting between Cal and UNLV. The Rebels, who were 2-10 last year, will have a bye after defeating FCS opponent Idaho State 52-21 in the season opener on Aug. 27. UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield was 21-for-25 for 356 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he played just over one half.
Cover photo of Cal linebacker Jack Plummer by Darren Yamashita, USA TODAY Sports
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