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Cal Football

Bears Start Strong, Hold Off North Texas

September 14, 2019
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BERKELEY – The Cal football team scored on each of its first four possessions of the game and held off North Texas 23-17 on Saturday afternoon at California Memorial Stadium.

The Bears (3-0) took the opening kickoff and immediately marched 75 yards on seven plays, with Christopher Brown Jr. scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run. After safety Jaylinn Hawkins sacked North Texas quarterback Mason Fine and forced a fumble that was recovered by Brett Johnson on the Mean Green's first possession, Cal got the first of three field goals from senior Greg Thomas to make it 10-0 with 8:45 remaining in the first quarter.

Thomas' 44-yard field goal with 4:58 to play in the first period pushed the Bears' lead to 13-0, and Cal quarterback Chase Garbers connected with Nikko Remigio for a 36-yard scoring pass to make it 20-0 before the end of the first quarter.

The Bears' offense didn't muster much of a threat for the remainder of the game, but Cal's heralded defense made sure it held up.

"The first thing is finding a way to win, which we know is hard at this level," Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said. "For us, it was all about our level of execution and we have a long way to go there. We started fast and put some points on the board early. I would have liked to score a couple more touchdowns, but we couldn't quite get it done. The level of execution the rest of the game has to be better. There are no two ways about it."

Cal led 20-3 at halftime after holding North Texas to a single field goal late in the second quarter. But the Mean Green announced itself as a legitimate threat for the remainder of the afternoon after Fine found Jaelon Darden for a 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on the third play from scrimmage of the third quarter to make it 20-10.

The Bears answered with Thomas' third field goal of the afternoon – a 34-yarder with 8:44 to play in the third quarter – and stymied North Texas on its next possession when Traveon Beck intercepted Fine at the Cal 37 after a quarterback pressure by linebacker Evan Weaver. The Bears couldn't convert the turnover into points and led 23-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Mean Green trimmed the deficit to 23-17 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Fine to Jyaire Shorter on a 4th-and-7 play with just under three minutes to play, and forced Cal into a three-and-out to get the ball back with 1:51 remaining. But the Bears turned back North Texas one last time, with Weaver breaking up a pass by Fine on fourth down.

"They have a good quarterback and did a great job," said Weaver, the reigning National Defensive Player of the Week who finished with a team-high 11 tackles. "They really brought it to us today. We did a great job with our effort. That's always there. There a few little things we need to fix. But it shows the character in the locker room that guys believe in the system and Coach Wilcox, and what everyone else puts in front of us."

The Bears, who have started the season 3-0 for the third straight year, travel to Ole Miss next Saturday for a 9 a.m. PT kickoff on ESPNU.

More stories:

Cal-North Texas Postgame Notes, Quotes and Video

Bears to Host Several Unofficial Visitors in Showdown vs North Texas

 
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