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After a Long Night of Thunder and Lightning, Cal Takes the Win

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In a gritty, no-margin-for-error game in hostile territory against a nationally ranked opponent

California v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Prologue

Last week, all of college football and the California Golden Bears’ fans especially were worried about how hollow the victory over UC Davis felt. That sentiment, alongside Washington Huskies’ crushing victory over Eastern Washington colored a lot of people’s expectations for the game.

See below for the national media’s predictions for the game:

See also my go-to advanced statistic’s prediction for the game that: UW by 21 and a 88% chance of a win.

Heck, most Cal fans were willing to accept a loss where Cal looked competitive on both ends of the ball. Rob and I went with our hearts and against all numbers and analysis stated:

Yet, the Davis game also produced Evan Weaver’s promise:

From today we’re no ready at all [...] But we will be ready next Saturday, you can believe that. But right now it is not looking good. But we’ll get it right : tomorrow in the film room, Monday, Tuesday, all the way till Friday, and then we’ll fly up there and then we’ll beat them, Saturday.

Because that is what we do. We win games. We figure it out, no matter the score.

And your California Golden Bears delivered on this promise.

1st Quarter: Quiet Thunder and Lightning

University of Washington Huskies (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12 North) came in expecting to start their Pac-12 championship campaign. The game began on 7:40pm, and after ~ 5 minutes of back and forth punts, it was delayed for another 2 hours 40 minutes. From that moment on, the game continued to depend on punts and very short drives.

Jacon Eason was kept mortal by the Cal Defense throughout the 1st quarter. The Cal offense generated FSO Polonez levels of offense (which is to say very bad). With the 1st UW play being shut down by a fantastic Cal DL pass-rush.

2nd Quarter: Turnovers and Doubts

In the 2nd quarter Washington opened up with a FG and after another Cal 3 and out Jacon Eason threw a pass to Camryn Bynum who ran a better route than the man he was covering.

However, Cal’s offense failed to capitalize on the turnover by going -2 yards on 3 plays and had to punt again. And like in soccer we have a saying “unused good opportunities tend to take vengeance upon thee”, the Huskies marched down the field, lead by a Salvon Ahmed rushing attack. With a game long 21 yard scamper on 4th and 1 he scores the 1st TD of the game.

Many Cal fans, writers and casual alike, were doubtful that the offense could score 10 points. Looking back at the struggles of yesteryear, and the 21 yards gained in the last 4 drives did not fill us with confidence.

This sentiment was amplified by the fact that despite a fantastic hustle play by the Cal defensive leader Evan Weaver to produce a sack-fumble, the Cal offense stalled with a 3 and out that produced -3 yards.

Right after that, the offense was finally able to move the sticks and not get shut out in the half. On a nice screen to Christopher Brown Jr., and a handful of strong runs by Chase Garbers Cal was able to drive 69 yards for a FG.

3rd Quarter: Dancy, Brown, and Garbers Bring the Thunder and Lightning

In the 3rd quarter the Cal offense came alive and the Cal defense would force the Huskies to settle for FGs for each Cal TD. Spearheaded by a Marcel Dancy / CBJr rushing attack, with a handful of short, low risk, completions by Garbers, Cal was able to score back to back TDs.

The defense allowed UW to run the all to the red zone, and once there they made sure the Husky players remembered the

On back to back plays, Cal went to Dancy who spun, ran, and yes, danced his way for TDs.

The last TD coming from a great read by Dancy who recognized his initial point of attack being closed and bounced outside for a strong run with Garbers making a devastating key block on the Husky DB.

After the 3rd Quarter the naysayers, me included, from earlier in the game ate crow about the offense, and how delicious that crow tasted for me.

4th Quarter: Hope Springs Eternal

Then the tight 4th Quarter came.

The Cal defense had to keep UW’s red-zone offense ineffective, the Cal offense had to continue to burn down the clock. As UW was wasting precious clock they could not spare, Cal tried their best to keep the lead.

On 4th and 1 with 7 minutes left in the game, UW was penalized with a false start and Peterson trotted out his FG unit.

Cal offense took the ball from the kick-off, up 17-16 and tried to go counter to expectations and pass the ball. With a quick 3 and out that only burned away 1:13 minutes UW was primed on their own 37. 10 plays and 3:52 minutes later the UW offense stalled on the Cal 32 and settled for a FG.

With a 49 yard, career high, FG by Peyton Henry Cal had a 2 minute drill to win the game with a FG/TD. With bated breath, the Chase Garbers had his do or die moment as the leader of the offense... and he did not die.

With a cool head he lead the Cal offense down the field against a top ranked, highly talented, defense. And after some shenanigans with a CBJr TD and HC Justin Wilcox out coaching his former HC Peterson with a clinical use of the clock, plays, and downs.

And with 8 seconds left on the clock, all of Cal fandom held their breath. We were on the other end of #CollegeKickers not once, but twice (Cal @ WSU in 2014, and Cal @ Texas in 2015).

Yet Greg Thompson didn’t care for the pressure. He didn’t need to be iced. Long snapper Slater Zellers (5* Long Snapper) gave a perfect snap, Steven Coutts caught and kept the laces out, and CAL WAS UP 20:19!!!!!!

Huskies tried to recreate the lateral pass magic. And all Cal could say about late game lateral pass magic is:

On 1:30am Pacific, 4:30am Eastern. Cal won. 2-0 against all odds and prognostications.

Seattle is Bear Territory. Rank us AP.