If this is the last game that Jared Goff plays in Berkeley, he delivered a nice comeback victory over ASU on Saturday night. Matt Anderson and the Bears made a last second, 26 yard field goal to win 48-46 over the Sun Devils.
Bears concluded their 2015 regular season with a 7-5 record, going 4-5 in the Pac-12, and is amongst one of 10 Bowl eligible teams from the Pac. Jared Goff led the Bears down the field with a 69 yard drive in 2:29 minutes to get this signature win to potentially cap his career in Berkeley, capping a comeback from being 21 points down.
Arizona State received the kickoff and methodically drove down the field, mostly with runs, to take a field goal lead early. Golden Bears proceed to answer immediately with a drive of their own - Matt Anderson converted on a 39 yard field goal to tie the score. Sadly, the defensive effort of the Bears on the following drive was negated by a fumble on a punt return. ASU QB Mike Bercovici found Devin Lucien, a graduate transfer from UCLA, for a 9 yard TD to allow the Sun Devils to be ahead 10-3 at the end of the first half. It was a relatively slow game.
Bears' next drive spanned 1st and 2nd quarter. Goff led the Bears down the field, including a 29 yard connection to senior Bryce Tregg. However, Bears could not convert on 4th and 5 and turned the ball over on downs. Sun Devils added to their lead with another Bercovici to Lucien connection to go up 17-3 on the next drive. After a 3 and out (and a bad punt), the Bears found themselves behind 24-3 when Bercovici found Lucien for a 36 yard TD. Just when all seems bleak when the Bear found themselves behind by 21 points, the 2015 Golden Bears finally live up to that Bears never quit saying. Jared Goff was a perfect 4 for 4 on his next drive, including a run for the first down. Goff found Treggs on a 52 yard play (nice play to hit Treggs in stride as he broke away from the defenders) to pull the Bears within 27-10 at the half (ASU added another FG after the Bears' drive, but that didn't matter all that much).
With the ball to open the 2nd half, the Bear Raid stalled to open the 2nd half. Cal defense replied to force a 3 and out of their own though. Pulling his best Aaron Rodgers, not just a Butte Community College grad you know, Jared Goff connected with Chad Hansen on a big 52 yard play on an offside on the Sun Devils. Tre Watson, who had a nice game as the Cal leading rusher, eventually found the end zone with 5 yard run (more like an easy stroll)--after a 20+ yard run earlier in the drive that saw Tre doing his best Marshawn Lynch impression. Golden Bears will not let the Sun Devils win this one quietly!
Cal defense was able to hold the Sun Devils to just another field goal next, Jared Goff then connected with (a wide open) Bryce Treggs on a 49 yard play en route to another Bears touchdown (Goff found Hansen for 16 yard) to make it a mere 6 point Sun Devils lead.
To get ahead of our story, the last 11 drives of the game by both teams resulted in points. Fortunately for the Bears on this comeback win, we mostly held the Sun Devils to field goals while Jared Goff and company chipped away at the lead. Bears scored 38 points in the 2nd half. Bear Raid was clicking for once. ASU kicker Zane Gonzalez was 6 for 6 on field goals for the night, but the biggest one was to be made by Cal's Matt Anderson.
To answer the 2nd ASU field goal of the 3rd quarter, Jared Goff engineered another touchdown drive. Showing that he can still run despite that knee brace, Goff rumbled for a key 20 yard run to pick up a first down on a third down in this drive. A big completion to Kenny Lawler (yes, he did play...but was a bit limited) led to the 9 yard TD to Maurice Harris (one of those nice outside shoulder throw).
FOURTH QUARTER (WAS OURS!)
Bears got within 2 after the Harris TD, but ASU would continue to score (and milk time off the clock). A 15 play drive resulted in another Sun Devils FG, but the Bears will answer their 3 with another touchdown. Jared Goff found Khalfani Muhommed with plenty of space. The part time Cal track star ran past the defenders for a 58 yard touchdown to pull the Bears to a 37-36 lead.
ASU, of course, had another field goal in them against a bend-but-don't-break Cal defense. A 51 yard connection between Bercovici and Lucien (can someone cover that guy?) was a key play in the Sun Devils retaking the lead.
Jared Goff and the Goffense answered with yet another Cal TD (another fast strike, by the way). Goff found Darius Powe with a 15-20 yard throw. Powe outran his one defender for a 49 yard pass. Goff again showed off his legs by running in the two point conversion for a 45-39 Cal lead.
With about 6 minutes left, ASU would not just go away. In a drive that had another 42 yard connection between Bercovici and Lucien (seriously, Bears had a hard time stopping Lucien who had 200 yards on 8 catches and 3 TDs), Bercovici found Raymond Epps with a 4 yard pass to allow the Sun Devils to go ahead with 2:35 left.
With Arizona State up 46-45, it was time for that signature Jared Goff moment that Cal fans have been waiting for. Goff eluded some ASU pass rush to complete throws. With 1 minute plus left, a Tre Watson first down run puts the Bears in field goal range. With a hot offense and a relatively unreliable kicker, you would think that Sonny Dykes would give the Bear Raid a shot to win the game via a touchdown....NO. I am not sure I agree with this decision (maybe Dykes just didn't want to give ASU the ball back with time on the clock...that's a legit concern), but the Bears milked the clock for the final play of the game. Matt Anderson hit his 2nd field goal of the game to give the Bears the 48-46 victory (nearly #drop50).
If this is indeed his final game in Berkeley, Jared Goff finished with a 542 yard and 5 TD performance. He also showed his versatility with 31 yard of rushing. Tre Watson was the guy on Saturday night (no Lasco nor Enwere in the box score). Watson rushed for 92 yards and a TD. Khalfani Muhammad was the other RB.
Several big connection had Bryce Treggs leading the Bears with 147 yards. Goff spread the ball around to 9 receivers.
After calling for a Cal "Pac-12 after dark" shootout win for weeks, I finally got what I was expecting from the Goff and the Bear Raid.
Yes, this was not a perfect game for the Bears, but we prevailed. ESPN article claimed that Dykes ignored Tony Franklin's plea to move down the field more at the end, but it worked. Jared Goff, who called this game the most memorable moment of his Cal career, finally got a nice memorable signature moment at home. Say what you will about Sonny, but watch that celebration video with his players again. His players love him and he is loving his time in Berkeley. The Golden Bears will have one more game, possibly against a name-school. Who knows what is going to happen beyond that (okay, Dykes getting a pay raise and an extension is by far the most likely scenario) but for one more night, Sonny Dykes and Jared Goff showed that Berkeley is Bear Territory and that we can beat solid Pac-12 foes that don't hail from the state of California.