CLEMSON, S.C. -The Golden Bears dotted down 11 tries and held Clemson scoreless until the 80th minute to defeat the Tigers, 71-5, Saturday on National Athletic Village Field in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship.
The Bears will host a semifinal Saturday, April 22, at 1 p.m. PT on Witter Rugby Field against Penn State, which defeated Army, 47-34, in University Park, Pa.
California (15-3) got a hat trick from inside center Anthony Salaber, two tries from fullback Jake Goena and a controlled performance as the pace slowed in the second stanza to eliminate Clemson after jumping out to a 50-0 halftime lead.
"Our game plan opened up some gaps inside and we were able to recycle the ball and move it out," said Salaber.
Captain and flyhalf Russell Webb converted all three of Cal's second-half tries and finished 8-of-11, in addition to his first-half try, for 21 points scored.
The Tigers' Wes Wilder scored the home team's try just before the final whistle; Drew Dommel's conversion was no good.
Cal started three freshmen and two sophomores, with frosh Damon Wiley initially scratched as a starter due to illness before joining the contest as a replacement along with two more frosh-soph subs who contributed to the victory.
The Blue and Gold dominated the Tigers in warm and humid conditions that prompted the referee to mandate water breaks midway through each half, but Cal exited the quarterfinal win with a sense of purpose to ratchet up its game against the Nittany Lions in the semifinals, which will be the final home match in the collegiate careers of the Bears' graduating seniors.
"There were stretches where we played really well," said No. 8 Drew Gaffney, who delivered a solid performance in set pieces and open play. "When things were clicking, we played quick and were all on the same page. But it's going to require hard work this week to be ready for the semis."
"The opportunity to play on Witter Rugby Field one last time is a great honor," added Salaber. "I know we're going to out everything we have into it."
In other quarterfinal action on Saturday, Navy edged Central Washington, 27-24, and Arkansas State defeated Utah Valley, 39-12, to set up the second semifinal between the Midshipmen and Red Wolves.
The Varsity Cup national championship final takes place Saturday, May 6, at Stevens Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University.
The Scoring Timeline vs. Clemson
02:00 Anthony Salaber 5, Russell Webb 2
05:00 Miles Honens 5
17:00 Russell Webb 5, 2
23:00 Wade Ogburn 5
34:00 Kevin Sullivan 5, Russell Webb 2
36:00 Anthony Salaber 5
38:00 Jake Goena 5, Russell Webb 2
40:00 Anthony Salaber 5, Russell Webb 2
Halftime Score: California 50, Clemson 0
42:00 Jake Goena 5, Russell Webb 2
46:00 Sam Cusano 5, Russell Webb 2
75:00 Damon Wiley 5, Russell Webb 2
80:00 Clemson (Wes Wilder) 5
Final Score: California 71, Clemson 5
The Team vs. Clemson
15. Goena (Thornton @ 70:00), 14. Honens, 13. Flynn, 12. Salabar (Coyle @ 78:00), 11. Cusano, 10. R. Webb (Howells @ 78:00), 9. Andrade (Kawash @ 64:00), 1. Sullivan, 2. Ogburn, 3. Zerbino (Wiley @ 64:00), 4. Sweet, 5. Paylor (Bader @ 27:00, Paylor @ 33:00), 6. Spradling (F. Le Merle @ 43:00), 7. Mirhashem, 8. Gaffney