Saturday’s matchup against Santa Clara was a tale of two halves. In the 1st period, the Bears were in a close and contested battle against the Broncos. Then the 2nd period hit, and the Bears went on a scoring barrage en route to their 65-21 win.
Cal, once again, rested its usual starters in the weekend’s bout with Santa Clara and turned to their frosh-soph players, along with other reserves. The Bears were by no means perfect throughout Saturday’s action. This matchup, however, served as another means for the team’s younger players to grow and develop.
“Well to be honest, I was hoping that after Wednesday night, we would play a little bit better,” Cal head coach Jack Clark said. “I thought Wednesday night was pretty lesson-rich and we would take some lessons on board. We were pretty good but not as much overall improvement, as we would have liked”.
The Bears were locked in at the start of the game and jumped out to a 10-0 lead with tries from freshman scrumhalf Ken Kurihara and senior center Matt Ternan. The young Bears looked destined for a dominant first period that would be characterized by strong offensive and defensive play. Santa Clara, however, had other plans. The Broncos answered right back when their center found his way into the try zone for five points.
Following the Broncos score, it was apparent that they were up to the challenge of going head-to-head with the Bears. Cal, though, did not let up either and responded with two tries from sophomore prop Peter Sekona and freshman flanker Sid Holland, putting the pressure back on their opponent to answer.
Ultimately, Santa Clara answered back with some defensive prowess of their own and kept Cal from scoring for the remainder of the period. This defense also led to scoring opportunities for the Broncos, who went on to capitalize with two successful penalty kicks that brought the score to 20-11 at halftime.
It’s not often the Bears’ lead at half is only single-digits and Cal came out of halftime aiming to rectify that as soon as possible. In the 2nd period, the Bears answered the bell and put up 45 points. The 2nd period started much like the first with a quick score to set the tone. The half’s first score came courtesy of Holland, who broke his way past Santa Clara’s defense and glided up field en route to his second try of the day.
“Today our forwards were put under a little bit of pressure, in terms we were asked a lot of today, but to be fair that should be expected, we should rise to that at any occasion,” said Holland.
Following Holland’s score, sophomore flyhalf Elliot Webb made the conversion and put Cal up 27-11 at the 41-minute mark. The Bears, now up by 16 with 39 minutes to go, did not become complacent or lackadaisical but rather kept up with their defensive intensity and knack for getting into the try zone.
On Cal’s next score, freshman center Christian Dyer got control of the ball and laid out a chip kick. In response, junior wing Justin Dunn sprinted up field, gained control of the ball on the 3rd bounce and took it in for another Bears’ score.
Five other Bears found their way into the try zone in the 2nd half, after Dunn’s tenacious score, with freshman wing Charley Lagomarsino providing the final one. Though Santa Clara was able to put up a few more tries in the latter part of the 2nd period at the 64- and 78-minute marks, it was too little and too late. The Bears’ offensive firepower proved to be devastating for the Broncos in the 2nd half.
The Bears frosh-sophs and other reserves proved that Cal has a lot of depth and versatility on their roster that could prove valuable for the team moving forward as they continue to implement youth into their lineups.
Ryan Groves covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].