Cal de­fense shuts out high-pow­ered Ole Miss of­fense in sec­ond half to knock off Rebels

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Jeff Fa­raudo Cor­re­spon­dent

BERKE­LEY >> Cal found its de­fense and a running game Satur­day night and stayed un­beaten with a 2716 vic­tory over Ole Miss in front of an an­nounced crowd of 37,125 at Memorial Sta­dium.

Much-ma­ligned in re­cent years, the Bears’ de­fense pitched a sec­ond­half shutout for the sec­ond straight week, and line­backer Cameron Goode iced vic­tory with an in­ter­cep­tion and 31-yard re­turn for a touch­down with 3 min­utes left.

The Bears an­swered the Ole Miss pass­ing at­tack with a ground game that pro­duced 164 yards and al­lowed them to run 15 more plays than the Rebels.

Pa­trick Laird, who came off the bench to run for a ca­reer-high 191 yards against We­ber State a week ear­lier, had 78 yards as the starter, and Vic En­were added 75 yards.

In their non­con­fer­ence fi­nale, the Bears im­proved to 3-0 un­der firstyear coach Justin Wil­cox and are now halfway to un­ex­pected bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity. Fourth-ranked USC vis­its next Satur­day.

Ole Miss (2-1) led 16-7 at half­time, thanks to a pair 70-plus yard touch­down passes by Shea Pat­ter­son.

But for the sec­ond straight week, the de­fense keyed a comeback vic­tory. The Bears squelched the Ole Miss running game all night, and ef­fec­tively pressed Pat­ter­son over the fi­nal two quar­ters. The Rebels had just 7 yards on 15 snaps in the fourth quarter be­fore Goode’s pick-six ended the drama.

Pat­ter­son, who en­tered the day lead­ing FBS at 459 pass­ing yards per game, fin­ished with 363 but was in­ter­cepted three times and threw for just 96 yards in the sec­ond half.

The Bears pulled within two points when Ross Bow­ers threw a 19-yard touch­down strike to Vic Whar­ton III, cap­ping a 13-play, 72-yard drive with 11:16 left in the third quarter.

Matt An­der­son’s 19-yard field goal with 2:47 left in the third vaulted the Bears into the lead. He missed a 40-yard try that could have ex­tended the lead with 7:48 left in the game, but de­liv­ered from 41 yards with 3:44 re­main­ing.

Pat­ter­son, who was rated the na­tion’s No. 1 high school quar­ter­back prospect two years ago, de­liv­ered a 72-yard TD pass to DaMarkus Lodge in the first quarter and a 71-yarder to D.K. Met­calfe two min­utes into the sec­ond pe­riod.

Those two plays ac­counted for 143 of the Rebels’ 285 first-half yardage to­tal. Cal had 126 yards at half­time.

Jaylinn Hawkins and De­vante Downs had firsthalf in­ter­cep­tions against Pat­ter­son, but the sopho­more still had 267 pass­ing yards by half­time.

Cal scored its only firsthalf touch­down on Laird’s 13-yard run with 8:17 left in the first quarter.

• The Bears played with­out star sopho­more wide re­ceiver Demetris Robert­son, out with an undis­closed in­jury. Side­lined for the sec­ond straight week were lineback­ers Cameron Saf­fle and Jor­dan Ku­naszyk and re­serve de­fen­sive line­man Tevin Paul, also all due to in­jury.


Above: Cal quar­ter­back Ross Bow­ers di­rected the Bears past Ole Miss 27-16 on Satur­day night at Memorial Sta­dium.

Right: Cal safety Jaylinn Hawkins in­ter­cepts a pass in­tended for Mis­sis­sippi wide re­ceiver A.J. Brown.


Cal line­backer Alex Funches, right, sacks Mis­sis­sippi QB Shea Pat­ter­son on Satur­day.

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