Instant analysis/reaction: Wild night in Seattle leads to Cal’s 2nd straight upset of No. 14 Washington

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Key takeaway

Every young football player dreams of playing on Sundays. 

Does Sunday at 1:20 a.m. count? 

Cal football kicked off conference play against No. 14 Washington at approximately 7:40 p.m. local time in Seattle. Five minutes of game time later, both teams headed back inside for what culminated in a 2-hour-and-40-minute weather delay due to an extreme weather advisory warning in the area. 

Lightning, thunder, rain — you name it. It arrived and made itself known. Make no mistake — tonight was no ordinary evening of football. 

By the time the weather subsided and play resumed, it was 10:30 p.m. and the announced crowd of 66,327 was down to a small fraction. In the second half, Saturday night football suddenly became a Sunday morning affair. 

Given the circumstances, it was easy to see why the first half of play was not your typical first half of play. The Huskies and Bears made their fair share of key mistakes in the opening two quarters— penalties and special teams errors for Cal, turnovers for Washington. 

Then the second half happened. 

With Marcel Dancy bursting onto the scene in the third quarter, the offensive line recovered enough in the latter two quarters to piece together three huge scoring drives and secure Cal’s second upset over Washington in as many years. 

Cal’s game MVP

Christopher Brown Jr. ran for nearly 200 yards in week one of the season. His mark of 197 yards was No. 3 in the nation, and it put him all over Washington’s scouting reports, figuratively written in red marker and circled, front and center. 

For the second weekend in a row, Cal’s running game made itself known. Only Brown wasn’t front and center this time around. Enter, running back No. 2. 

Redshirt junior Marcel Dancy didn’t see the field until the third quarter. When he did, he almost assuredly put himself on next week’s scouting report. 

Dancy’s second carry of the evening went for a 20-yard touchdown, tying the game at 10 apiece after several broken tackles and a late burst of speed. His second touchdown, one drive later, gave the Bears their first lead of the game. Have yourself a day, kid — this game will be known as both the lightning and thunder game, but deservedly so, the Marcel Dancy game. 

Let’s give a shoutout to a certain player on the defensive side, though. 

The signature moment of Evan Weaver’s collegiate career came against the Huskies in 2018 — a game-winning pick-six to knock off then-No. 15 Washington in Berkeley. Nearly 11 months and a rain delay that lasted an eternity later, Cal’s captain and face of the defense showed no signs of regression against a different Huskies lineup. 

Weaver’s clutch performance included a team-high 18 tackles and a forced fumble that Ben Hawk Schrider pounced on. Together, Cal’s defense held Jacob Eason to just 162 yards with one interception. 

Eye-opening stat

Chase Garbers was running away from defenders early and often. His final line may not look like much through the air, but the second-year quarterback led the two-minute drill like a seasoned veteran with the noise of Husky Stadium rearing down his back. Down 2 with two minutes and change left in the contest, and Cal’s starting quarterback sitting at well under 100 yards through the air, the redshirt sophomore delivered. 

The Bears ran for 192 yards compared to 111 through the air. But the passing game came alive when it mattered most — in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Cal’s final scoring drive: nine plays, 74 yards, 1:57 elapsed. Greg Thomas: game-winning, 17-yard field goal. 

Looking ahead

On a chilly and long evening in Seattle, nothing came easy against Washington’s defense. But a second half to remember was the story for Garbers, Dancy and offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin. 

The Bears’ opponent next Saturday, North Texas, suffered a 22-point loss to SMU this weekend. The Mustangs, led by former Cal head coach Sonny Dykes, put up 49 points on the Mean Green’s defense — next week’s game should afford the Bears an opportunity to build on their recent success on the ground. 

Josh Yuen covers football. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joshcal2020.