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Cal 45, Texas 44: Golden Bears mess with Longhorns, themselves, our souls

I am happy. I am also a wreck.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

This is me, sitting in the Austin press box, right now.

These Goffensive Cal football games might end in wins, but they are taking years off my life. These games are God rolling dice and landing sixes that immediately turn into potatoes. I do not understand exactly how Cal gave up 24 of 31 points, then scored 31 points in row, then proceeded to give up THEIR SECOND THREE TOUCHDOWN FOURTH QUARTER LEAD IN A YEAR.

Except oh wait! I saw them do this a half-dozen times last year. This is now life. This is now past, future and present.

Somehow Cal combined the absurdity of peak #drop50 culture (Arizona and Washington State last year) to produce this display of Kierkegaardian madness.  Jared Goff summed it up best postgame.

On the other hand, we are the nation's delight! Everyone now knows how crazy it is to watch our damned football team now. They will enjoy our confusion, our glee, our trepidation, our suffering, our exhilaration.

Let's give you this insane recap.

1st quarter: Cal and Texas duel to a standstill

Cal got off to a shaky start. With Daniel Lasco out, it was Jeffrey Coprich who got the first running snap of the game. But Coprich and Vic Enwere could not pick up the first down with four yards to go, and Cal went three-and-out to start the game. Future first round NFL punter Goff then booted it 32 yards to the Texas 34.

Texas managed to move into Cal territory on the subsequent drive, but Cal stuffed them at the 35 on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 on two consecutive plays, with Jalen Jefferson and Darius White and Hardy Nickerson all making big plays.

Goff then drove Cal down the field with his legs with a 12 yard rush on 3rd and 10, and Cal was on the move. Goff would find Vic Enwere for 9 yards, Stephen Anderson for 22 yards (and a Bryce Treggs catch that was discounted), and capped it off with an incredible roll out to the left to find Maurice Harris into the corner of the end zone to make it 7-0 Cal.

Texas responded with what turned out to be loads of Jerrod Heard brilliance. Heard found Daje Johnson for 45 yards and Johnathan Gray for 26 yards down each sideline to specifically burn the Cal defense at the soft holes in their coverage. Heard than punctuated it with a 2 yard score to tie things up.

Goff came back with another stellar drive, finding Khalfani Muhammad for 16 yards (and getting a personal foul to boot), then driving Cal into the red zone with completions to Treggs, Darius Powe and Stephen Anderson. Muhammad then seemed to punch in Cal's second touchdown of the game, but Texas safety Kevin Vaccaro forced a fumble and the Horns recovered in the end zone.

Sonny would specifically mention these types of mistakes in the post-game presser. "We were our own worst enemy in the first half."

2nd quarter: MADNESS

The Cal defense had a rough game, as they had no answers for Heard. Another deep bomb to Daje Johnson for 54 yards set up Texas near the red zone, but the Cal defense would hold Texas to only a field goal in the red zone to make it 10-7 Horns.

Cal responded with a touchdown drive of their own, as Goff connected on five of six passes, including a bullet to Trevor Davis over the middle, two completions to Darius Powe down the sideline, an early pass to Stephen Anderson, and eventually finding Kenny Lawler for six on an insane catch.

It seemed like Cal was ready to settle in and start taking control when Texas had 2nd down on their own 2 after an illegal forward pass, but then Heard had a 34 yard rush and a 43 yard pass and Gray did the rest. Texas up 3!

Cal looked like they were ready to strike back after a huge rush by Enwere, but Cal had too many men on the field on 4th and 1 (penalty) and Matt Anderson missed a 44 yard field goal. Texas seemed to be moving into Cal territory for another strike, but Heard bungled an option play and fumbled it back 11 yards on 3rd and short. PUNT!

Cal seemed to be coming undone after protection collapsed and Goff was stripped, sacked, and fumbled the ball to Texas on the Cal 6, and Gray punched it in to put Texas up 24-14 with only 90 seconds before halftime. But immediately Cal responded with two plays that went 71 yards and set them up in the red zone, with Vic Enwere eventually punching it in after Texas started performing theater on the field.

Heard was then picked by Jalen Jefferson with 24 seconds left, and Goff found Davis and Lawler to set up a 34 yard field goal for Anderson to tie the game at 24-24.


3rd quarter: Cal domination

That last minute of the second quarter, followed by most of the third, resembled the Cal team that could beat many, many teams this year.  The Bears dominated on offense and defense and took a commanding 45-24 lead.

Mustafa Jalil forced a fumble with his butt, setting Cal up with a short field. Goff then found Lawler for 22 yards to put Cal near the goal-line. Enwere punched it in on 4th and goal for his second touchdown to put Cal up 31-24.

Texas then stalled in their own territory after a personal foul penalty on their offensive guard, forcing a Longhorn punt. Then Cal used their ground game to slash and dash, with Watson picking up 18 yards and Goff getting another nice scramble for 16, and Goff found Lawler for another incredible touchdown. 38-24.

The Texas defense managed to get to midfield again before holding killed their drive. Cal took over the ball at their eight, and Khalfani Muhammad took over with an 18 yard gain and a 74 yard touchdown. 45-24.

Kill shot right? So it's over, right?

Oh, you silly, silly people.

4th quarter: All souls die

This is about where I start to lose consciousness. Thoughts become fractured. Sentences become scribbles. Let's see

Heard led one drive into Cal territory with about a hundred yards of offense, including a 3rd and goal scramble from the 13 yard line that took approximately about 50 yards zigging and zagging over the field. 45-31 Cal.

Goff gets hit on a bizarre play to Malik McMorris. Gets dinged up. Gets a first down to Trevor Davis. With Goff a little gimpy, Enwere was given a 3rd and 6 and couldn't convert. Goff punted the football on 4th and short. This is a thing that happened in the 4th quarter of Cal-Texas.

Cal seemed to clinch the game a second time when Puka Lopa and Tony Mekari sacked Heard on 3rd and 4th down. But Cal went three and out and burned only 1:42 off the clock, and Texas scored in four minutes behind  the running efforts of D'Onta Foreman (27 yard touchdown). 45-38 Cal.

Stephen Anderson recovered the subsequent onside kick and then tried to run the clock out. Anderson then dropped a crucial 3rd down pass to clinch the game. What.

Vince Young Heard then marched Texas down the field in under a minute. And ran a quarterback draw from 45 yards to seemingly tie the game.

And then the extra point was blocked.

And then anything we watched in the past four hours proceeded to lose all tangible significance.

And then Cal was 3-0.

Final thoughts

It’s great that we won. I’m happy that we won. Winning in this type of enviornment is a signature win for the Bears, and the biggest moment in the program since going into Autzen and winning in 2007. It's the type of game that the nation will stand up and take notice on.

The Bears are ready to rock in 2015, and will take chalk loads of confidence back into Pac-12 play. They have a lot to work on and improve upon, and it doesn't get any easier when they head up to Washington. Cal has a lot of inconsistencies they'll have to work on, a lot of banged up and bruised players that need to heal up, because the real season begins now.

In the end, it boils down to this. Cal went into Texas and beat Texas. Can you imagine ever saying those words two years ago? Look how far we've come.


Excuse me. I need to check into an ER.