At the beginning of the second half, Jared Goff’s pass sailed through the air toward senior wide receiver Trevor Davis. The quarterback’s eyes followed the ball across the field. Goff’s arms slowly ascended upward as the ball fell into Davis’ hands. Goff’s hands then formed the all-too-familiar sign. Touchdown.
His hands would remain there for the rest of the game.
On Saturday, Cal (2-0) defeated San Diego State (1-1) at Memorial Stadium, routing the Aztecs, 35-7.
Despite the final score, the game did not start well for the Bears.
The improved Cal defense — which allowed 325 total yards on the day — permitted the Aztecs to drive 71 yards in eight plays on the first drive of the game. San Diego State capped off the effort with a 29-yard touchdown from Aztec senior quarterback Maxwell Smith to junior tight end Daniel Brunskill.
The rest of the first quarter had the Bears trading three-and-outs with San Diego State. To end the quarter, the Aztecs went on a 33-yard drive, moving well against the Cal offense once again.
Despite this rough start, the Bears’ defense overall had a successful game, only allowing the Aztecs to score once, and having two interceptions and two sacks on the day. The first came from junior nickelback Cameron Walker, who took down Smith for a loss of five.
“There have been so many times last year that the offense has carried us through games,” said Cal junior linebacker Michael Barton. ”It was good to have our defense carry us through the game.”
Walker’s sack changed the tides of the game. On the next drive, Goff led the Bears on a 78-yard drive that was aided by a personal foul penalty on the Aztecs’ junior cornerback Malik Smith. Two plays later, Goff threw a 32-yard pass to sophomore tight end Ray Hudson to get the ball all the way down to San Diego State’s 2-yard line. With a quick pass to senior wide receiver Darius Powe, the game was tied.
But on Cal’s next drive, Goff had his worst play of the year. On a first-and-10 at their own 30, the Bears appeared ready to start another big drive. Coming off a pass interference call on the Aztecs, Goff threw in the direction of junior wide receiver Kenny Lawler, but the pass was undercut by San Diego’s senior cornerback J.J. Whittaker. The pass was lifted and gave Whittaker an easy takeaway.
All Goff could do was stand there and put his head down.
The mistakes by Cal continued on its next drive with a five-play, 64-yard trek down the field. But sophomore kicker Matt Anderson missed a 35-yard field goal that went wide right.
On the following drive, senior cornerback Darius White intercepted Aztecs freshman quarterback Christian Chapman, which led to another Cal score by Goff. This time, it only took three quick passes to reach the endzone, with the score coming from a 13-yard dagger to senior wide receiver Maurice Harris.
After going into the half 14-7, Cal then notched that third touchdown to Davis with 14 minutes and 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
For the rest of the third quarter, the Bears killed the clock by mostly running the ball, including a span in which they had 12 consecutive running plays.
And with that, the game stayed out of reach for the Aztecs, with Goff ultimately finishing the day with a 71-percent completion percentage, 321 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
“I wouldn’t trade (Goff) for another player in college football,” said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes. “I probably wouldn’t even if they threw a kicker in.”
Alaina Getzenberg covers football. Contact her at [email protected]