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Cal Football

Bears Say No Moral Victories After 30-20 Loss to No. 5 USC

September 23, 2017
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For three quarters, Cal battled the number five team in the nation to a draw. In previous years, that might be cause for celebration, but these Bears take no pride in coming close.

"I would never go into a season, game, or practice thinking, 'I hope we only lose by 20' or something like that," said running back Patrick Laird, who rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries. "We're confident in ourselves. We don't really care whether people think we're going to win or lose. We go into each game expecting to win."

"Nobody in there came into the game hoping to keep it close," added head coach Justin Wilcox. "We came in there to play to win and we took that attitude going in and did some good things."

The Bears did do some good things, outgaining USC 416-to-356 and holding the Trojans without a single play of 20 yards or more. But the key stat was turnovers - Cal committed six of them, leading to 17 USC points, and the Trojans left Berkeley with a 30-20 win.

"It's hard to win when you keep giving the other team the ball," said quarterback Ross Bowers, who threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles. "We were trying to make too much happen and trying to manufacture something that wasn't there... Credit to them on making plays and they capitalized on our mistakes. We just have to be better in the future."

Added Wilcox: "It was a tough second half for (Bowers). Ross will bounce back. Ross is a tough guy. He plays with guts. He is going to have a lot to learn like a lot of the other players on the team. He'll learn from that and grow from it. I am not worried about Ross. Obviously, we have to clean up the mistakes, but Ross will be okay."

The Cal defense continued to show significant improvement from last season, limiting USC to 4.7 yards per play. But the players still weren't satisfied.

"(We) definitely needed to make more plays," said linebacker Raymond Davison III, who recorded seven tackles in the game. "If we didn't win, we didn't do what we were supposed to do. Basically it comes down to however many plays we need to make, that's how many we need to make. If we need to get 20 turnovers, then we need to get 20 turnovers."

"We had our opportunities to get off the field a couple times on third downs, but we didn't," added Wilcox. "We did some good things, made some plays, we just didn't make enough of them."

While the Bears refuse to accept any moral victories, USC head coach Clay Helton had some positive reviews for them after the game.

"They are really becoming a physically tough football team," Helton said. "I thought the way they ran the ball was impressive today. You can see that team is developing an identity. Credit to Coach Wilcox and his staff. He's got his kids playing extremely hard and it made a major challenge for us."

Those words won't serve as any consolation for the Bears, who vow to learn from their first defeat.

"This is going to be our motivation," said Bowers. "When you're not wanting to work or you want to take a break, we're going to remember this one for a long, long time. This is going to be one that sticks with you. It's going to be hard to get over, but I'm going to use it as fuel to my fire."

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Bears Say No Moral Victories After 30-20 Loss to No. 5 USC

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