After three straight Pac-12 losses to open the season, California is starting to find its stride.
Chase Garbers threw one of his three TD passes one play after a partially blocked punt and the Golden Bears beat Oregon State 39-25 Saturday.
“We’re certainly improving,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “There are guys who are developing and making some big plays in the game who are coming into their own a little bit. We are improving but the margins are so thin at this level of football and in our conference that there are going to be a handful of critical plays in the game that you have to find a way to make and I thought there were some big ones today.”
The biggest plays came in the closing seconds of the third quarter with Cal (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12) leading by seven points.
Chance Nolan couldn't connect with Trevon Bradford on a third-down pass and sent out Luke Loecher to punt.
Nick Alftin got a piece of the kick and it went out of bounds 1 yard past the line of scrimmage. Garbers then went deep and connected on a 38-yard TD pass to Trevon Clark to make it 31-17 on the final play of the third quarter.
The Beavers (5-3, 3-2) lost for the second time in three games and fell a game behind rival Oregon in the Pac-12 North.
“There's nobody feeling sorry for themselves, because we put ourselves in this position,” defensive back Jaydon Grant said. “We're the ones who came out and didn’t execute. We're the ones who came out and got out-physicaled from top to bottom. We're the ones who are accountable for losing this game — not the coaches, not the game plan. It's us. It's not being able to execute for four quarters throughout the duration of the game. It's don't feel sorry for yourself and back to work tomorrow.”
Oregon State tried to mount a comeback, cutting it to 31-25 on a 46-yard TD pass from Chance Nolan to Trevon Bradford followed by a 2-point conversion.
But the Golden Bears answered on Garbers' second TD pass of the game to Christopher Brooks followed by a 2-point conversion of their own and held on for the win.
Garbers also ran for a score on the opening drive and threw a 38-yard TD pass to Brooks earlier in the third quarter to lead Cal to their its second straight conference win.
“Tonight we showed out,” safety Elijah Hicks said. “I'm proud of the guys... We're just hungry for more. We're not satisfied. We're not done. We're going to keep coming.”
Oregon State: The Beavers were done in by three turnovers and the partially blocked punt as they failed in their first chance to become bowl eligible. They also struggled to get going on the ground with B.J. Baylor held to 42 yards on 13 carries. Baylor came into the week sixth in the nation at 118.6 yards rushing per game and had topped the 100-yard mark in four straight and five of the past six games contests.
California: The Bears followed up a lopsided win over Colorado last week with a more impressive one in a tougher opponent in the Beavers. They need to win three of the final four games to get bowl eligible.
Cal jumped out early with Marqez Bimage ripping the ball away from B.J. Baylor for a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. That set up a 3-yard TD run by Garbers that gave him the most TD runs by a quarterback in school history with 10.
Cal has now scored on the opening drive in six of eight games this season with five touchdowns and one field goal.
Oregon State visits Colorado on Saturday.
California visits Arizona on Saturday.
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