With the fires affecting many in the State of California, California wasn’t sure about the state of their football game on Friday night against the #8 Washington State Cougars. Air Quality Index, NCAA, PAC-12, Cal, and WSU were all being consulted on whether or not the game should be postponed or even cancelled due to health concerns. As of 3:30PM Cal officially announced that the game would still continue and would monitor the situation as deemed necessary. 7:30PM both teams were on the field, ready to go, Cal Band in formation and the National Anthem in full swing. There was something in the air. Maybe it was the lack of people on a Friday night? Maybe it was the air quality full of ash particles? There was no sense of pre-game depression. There was also no sense of pre-game overexcitement. It felt like a normal evenly matched pre-game, with the looming thought of a top 10 team thats undefeated halfway into the season. No biggie. One Sierra Mist. One bowl of popcorn. One bottle of water. Thats all I thought I needed. Boy was I wrong.
1st Quarter: WE CAN HAZ LEAD?!
Cal wins the toss. Bears defer. (Friend tells me before the game, coin toss is probably all we might win tonight. How wrong he was.)
Cal kicks off and WSU’s Renard Bell runs it back for a TD. It seemed like it would be one of those nights. A little yellow flag laid back on the WSU 20. The Cougars were called for a hold and the touch down was nullified. A BREAK.
WSU comes onto the field and after a run and a sack, Camryn Bynum makes an amazing interception and the Bears get their FIRST TURNOVER and 1st drive on the WSU20.(Remember this. Numbers and Counting necessary today.)
The offense comes out sputtering but still gets one first down. That turnover leads into a 26 yard field goal by Matt Anderson.
Cal leads 3-0.
WSU get the ball back and after a first down, Cal’s defense stops them to force a 49 yard field goal attempt which was MISSED. A BREAK.
Cal then takes the ball from their own 32 and goes 3 and out on 3 incomplete passes.
WSU starts from their own 42 and on the first play Mr. Jaylinn Hawkins punches out the ball from former Cal target Jamire Calvin. Devante Downs recovers and takes it to the WSU 42. SECOND TURNOVER.
Cal goes 3 and out.
WSU goes 3 and out.
Cal starts on the WSU23. Ross Bowers gets 17 yards through Freshman TE Gavin Reinwald, who had a career game in receptions. Vic Enwere then decided to carry the WSU defense on his back and score.
Cal leads 10-0.
WSU then started their next drive and drove it down to the Cal 30 before the end of the quarter.
This was Cal’s first lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
2nd Quarter: Oh? Wait. What? What’s going on?
WSU started on the Cal 30. Falk threw an amazing pass on a fade route to Martin Jr for a touchdown, but wait. Yellow Flag. Cal P.I.? NOPE. WSU P.I. Cal catches another break and holds WSU to a field goal which Erik Powell knocks in from 52.
Cal leads 10-3.
This is where it hit a stale mate for quite a while.
Cal drive for a first down, then a touchback.
WSU drive for three first downs. Falk interception. Wait what? Yes. Falk threw a perfect ball into the endzone. Camryn Bynum, who read the play after studying that play all week, peeled off of his assignment and reeled in a interception fully extended in the endzone for a touchback. THIRD TURNOVER.
But the TO would be for naught as the Bears would get one first down then punt it away again.
WSU goes three and out. Punt gets shanked and goes for 1 yard. 1 YARD! That is not a typo.
Cal now gets the ball back with 52 seconds on the WSU 45. With our offense sputtering could we do anything with this gift? Ross Bowers goes 6-6 in this drive for a total of 60 yards and a Touchdown. It was also a very gutsy call by Coach Wilcox, when the Bears got down to the 2 yard line, with 4 seconds left. Coach decided to go for the endzone knowing he would get the ball back to start the second half. WSU sent a big blitz package, but Kyle Wells was unmarked as the TE leaking out and he scored his first TD on his first career catch.
Cal leads 17-3.
Halftime. The excitement was brewing. Cautiously Optimistic. You could also sense the old blues seeing if this could be a revert to old Cal of hope and disappointment. But tonight felt different. Tonight felt....right.
3rd Quarter: I like pastries. Turnovers are good.
Only 3 points were scored in this quarter. A 48 yard FG by Matt Anderson with 5:13 left in the quarter. This might be the point that alot of Cal fans now believed we were winning this game. This was also the quarter where the Defense decided that we were winning this game.
Ray Davison with an INT on WSU’s first drive, which was an incredible heads-up play after a shovel pass pops up into the air and Davison grabs it at the line of scrimmage amidst all of the chaos that is the OL-DL fight in the trenches. FOURTH TURNOVER.
Cal works the clock a bit but cant move the ball down field and has to punt.
WSU gets the ball back on their own two yard line. Now Jordan Kunaszyk picks up the INT on a ball thrown to far and behind his intended target. FIFTH TURNOVER. (This would lead to the Matt Anderson FG I wrote earlier).
Cal leads 20-3.
WSU starts its drive again but Falk is sacked twice and only throws for gain of 10. Mike Leach elects to punt, and this is where the game was finished. Cal turned around and started to march down the field behind Vic Enwere, as the Bears finished off the quarter with a 1st and 10 on the WSU 35.
4th Quarter: Flip once? Shame on you. Flip twice? Shame on you.
Cal continued to run the ball to no avail and just when it all seemed lost...
Yup. That happened. It also was the #1 play on SportsCenter Friday night. Also CFB Reddit decided to make some changes to their banner.
From there WSU unraveled. They went three and out.
Bears march down field and knock in another 41 yard FG.
WSU gets the ball. Falk gets strip sacked and Gerran Brown picks it up and runs for a TD. SIXTH TURNOVER.
WSU gets the ball back again, but the ball is over thrown and ping-pongs between 2 Cal defenders until Quentin Tartabull reels it in. SEVENTH TURNOVER.
Cal then put Chase Forrest into the game who went three and out.
WSU then ran out HIlinsiki who got 4 passes but was stopped from getting a first down by Elijah Hicks and THAT WAS THE GAME.
THE BEARS BEAT #8 WSU.
CAL SACKED WSU 9 TIMES.
CAL CREATED 7 TURNOVERS.
THE BEARS DEFENSE IS AMAZING.
ROSS BOWERS SHOWED GUTS AND WILLINGNESS TO DO WHATEVER IT TOOK TO WIN.
ITS OVER. BEARS WIN. BEARS WIN.
It’ll take a re-watch of the game and some hours to fully fathom the magic, hysteria and fun that was Memorial Stadium on Friday the 13th.
But for now?
Bartender? I want to start a tab. Top Shelf.