In the end, it was a loss, and losses never feel good. But for a Cal team that was uncompetitive in most, if not all, of the losses during the current losing streak, being in the game with a chance to win was a refreshing change.
The Bears played hard all game and were competitive from the start. The opening drive touchdown - on an 11-yard pass from Jared Goff to Khalfani Muhammad - gave Cal its first lead since the Portland St. game:
Cal FINALLY scores on an opening drive: Goff completes it to Muhammad - TD Bears!!! Cal leads 7-0.— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Cal kept it close through late in the 4th quarter - with significant contributions from Kenny Lawler, Daniel Lasco, Cameron Walker, and Cedric Dozier - but the Bears couldn't come away with a W at the end:
[Kenny] Lawler finished with six catches, 72 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs.
After missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, Daniel Lasco returned Saturday and rushed 12 times for 71 yards. ... Lasco leads Cal with 47.3 rushing yards per game.
Cameron Walker led Cal with a career-high 13 tackles. He has set a career-high in tackles in the last four games.
Cedric Dozier, a redshirt freshman, started at cornerback. He was the sixth different cornerback, 11th different defensive back and 45th different player to start a game for the Bears this season.
Despite an early 7-0 lead and a valiant 60-minute effort, Cal dropped its seventh straight game in a 33-28 loss to Arizona in front of an announced crowd of 41.874 fans at Memorial Stadium.
So who deserves a helmet sticker for a job well done? ...
Kenny Lawler, WR, California: Lawler only caught [six] passes for 72 yards in the Bears loss to Arizona, but he accounted for three touchdowns, one of which was an absolutely spectacular one-handed grab.
This is worth a look if you like spectacular football plays. http://t.co/Bp8LkgJG8K— ESPN Pac-12 (@ESPN_Pac12blog) November 3, 2013
Lawler's touchdown receptions were the first of his career, and his one-hander made ESPN's Top 10 plays:
Redshirt freshman Kenny Lawler had touchdown receptions of 17, 3 and 29 yards to become the first Cal player with three TD catches in a game since in 2006. They were the first three touchdowns of Lawler's career.
Dykes said he just had a good conversation with Lawler in the locker room. "Some of the things he can do are pretty special."— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) November 2, 2013
re: Lawler - "Kenny has the chance to be pretty special, need him to keep develop(ing), shows flashes like you saw today"— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Goff & Lawler up next: Jared says "Kenny really stepped up today and did a great job"— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Per Cal's official postgame notes, Goff marked a new career-best with 4 TD passes - despite 2 costly INTs - and is now one spot behind a Cal legend on the single-season passing list:
Jared Goff ended the day 34-for-56 for 289 yards and a personal-best four touchdown passes. In addition, Goff was not sacked once. Now with 2,881 passing yards this season, Goff ranks fifth on Cal’s single-season top-10 list for passing yards. Aaron Rodgers is fourth (2,903 in 2003).
Coach Dykes also had good things to say about the secondary and the defense in general:
Sonny at podium now, looks spent & is hoarse: "hard fought loss... defensively we did some good things, didnt make enough plays offensively"— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Sonny said he was pleased with Dozier's performance & also complimented Jackson's physical play— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Sonny remained optimistic while giving a candid assessment on the team:
Dykes: "I think that they want to see tangible results. The fact that we played better together, shows them we're making progress."— Cal Rivals (@CalRivals) November 2, 2013
he mentioned 2 turnovers & inability to convert short yardage situations... but said (Cal) players expect to win & credit to their character— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) November 2, 2013
Definitely an improvement, Dykes says, but "our goal is to win the ballgame."— Ryan Gorcey (@RGBearTerritory) November 2, 2013
This season's been difficult so far, but like our players, our fans - including Chancellor Dirks - haven't quit: