Photo by Al Seremeno - KLC Photos
Cal Football

Rising To The Occasion

September 21, 2019
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OXFORD, Miss. – Cal's defense slammed the door shut with a goal-line stand as time expired and the No. 23 Golden Bears fended off Ole Miss in a 28-20 road victory at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium on Saturday.
 
Evan Weaver stuffed Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee on Cal's 1-yard line with his career-best 22nd tackle of the game to seal the victory. The Bears (4-0), who earned their first win at a SEC school since 1977, also became the first Pac-12 team to defeat a SEC school on the road since Oregon bested Tennessee in Knoxville in 2010.
 
Quarterback Chase Garbers put together a personal-best performance in the win, setting career highs in passing yards (357), completions (23) and touchdown passes (four). The redshirt sophomore finished 23-of-35 passing and found nine different receivers at least once.
 
The Cal defense bent, but did not break, holding Ole Miss (2-2) to just seven second-half points. Leading 28-13 in the fourth quarter, Cal surrendered its only score of the second half, a 15-yard touchdown rush by Jerrion Ealy with 4:29 remaining. After a short drive, Cal punted to the Ole Miss 10 with 2:45 on the clock, only to see the Rebels drive 89 yards before the pivotal goal-line stop as time ran out.
 
"Coming down here and playing in this type of environment against a talent like that and the coaches they have, you feel really excited for our team," head coach Justin Wilcox said. "I just love the way they competed."
 
Weaver and company were strong throughout, forcing Ole Miss to attempt four field goals, including three on its five first-half drives. The Rebels made just two of those four attempts. Cal held the Rebels scoreless in the third quarter while Garbers led a pair of touchdown drives in the frame to build a healthy lead.
 
After Ole Miss' 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide-right on the opening drive of the game, Cal executed a 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Trevon Clark hauling in a six-yard touchdown reception from Garbers. The Rebels tied it up at 7-7 on their following possession with a one-yard touchdown rush by Matt Corral.
 
Ole Miss owned a short-lived 10-7 advantage in the second quarter before Garbers hit Christopher Brown Jr. with a 13-yard touchdown pass at the 10:43 mark of the period. One of Garbers' few blemishes came with 5:24 left in the first half when he was intercepted by Deantre Prince at the Ole Miss 44. Despite the turnover, the Bears' defense came up big and held the Rebels to a field goal. The defensive stand helped Cal take a 14-13 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
 
Cal's momentum carried over to the second half as Garbers led a 75-yard drive that was capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mississippi native Jordan Duncan, who led the Bears with five receptions and 63 yards in his home state. Garbers completed three passes of 10 yards on more on the drive, including a 43-yard connection with Nikko Remigio.
 
A 60-yard touchdown pass from Garbers to Jake Tonges with nine minutes left in the third quarter extended Cal's lead to 15 points and proved to be the Bears' final score.
 
"We just executed in the game," Garbers said. "We lacked execution the past three weeks and we execute all the time in practice; it was good to have it carry over to Saturday today."
 
Garbers left the game with an injury briefly in the third quarter and was replaced by Devon Modster, who completed a 16-yard pass in his lone attempt. Garbers returned on Cal's next offensive drive, however, and finished the contest.
 
"I thought Chase – and it was not even close – (had) his best game by far," Wilcox said. "He had one throw on the pick that I think he'd like to have back, but man, I thought he just played awesome. I'm really proud of him.
 
"With how comfortable he was and how confident he played ... he delivered with authority. All of these experiences, you learn from them, and he'll learn from this one."
 
Ole Miss was forced to punt on its first three second-half possessions and missed its second field goal of the game, a 29-yard attempt, early in the fourth quarter. It was not until Plumlee, a true freshman, entered the game that Ole Miss started to gain offensive momentum against Cal's defense.
 
The Bears, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2015, will return to California Memorial Stadium next week for a clash with Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. The Pac-12 contest will be aired live on ESPN.

Other stories:

Bear Insider Video: Cal-Ole Miss pregame warmups, tailgate in The Grove

Edwards Talks Transition, Rejuvinated Running Backs Corps

 
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