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Ott's 274 Yards Powers Cal's Win Over Wildcats, 49-31

September 24, 2022

MEMORIAL STADIUM -Today the Bears exorcized the demons of too many horrific losses to an Arizona program that all too often punched above their weight in winning six straight games in the series, as they came from behind to put together an impressive 49-31 win over the Wildcats.

The game featured the 3rd-highest rushing total in Cal history as true frosh running back Jaydn Ott ran through and around a Wildcat defense who had no answer for his combination of speed, power and cutback ability on his way to an impressive 274 yards and 3 TDs on just 19 carries, including two breakaway TD runs of 73 and 72 yards along with an 18-yard scramble where he refused to go down before breaking away from a scrum to find paydirt yet again.

Already a recipient of two of the first three Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week Awards, Ott looks to add to his honor roll with a likely Offensive Player of the Week after today’s performance.

“When I see green man, when I see the end zone, I just take off and I know I’m going to score,” said Ott with a smile. 

“What did he have? 274 on 19 carries? That’s explosive,” said Cal head coach Justin Wilcox. “We’ve been talking about him for a long time and you’ve seen it in flashes. You saw it a bunch today. He’s a dynamic guy and has the ability to take it to the house from a lot of spots.”

Ott did his damage behind a reformulated offensive line, featuring frosh OG Sioape Vatikani in his first start along with a shift of Brian Driscoll to center and Matt Cindric to guard as well as portal transfer soph OT TJ Session earning his first start at tackle. In a reversal of recent fortunes, the line gave up no sacks while giving Plummer time to throw and opening up holes in the running game to the tune of 9.3 yards per rush and 13.6 yards per completion.

“Oh man, we owe all credit today to our offensive line,” said Ott. “They played their butts off and I had to appreciate them for that. I’m going to have to take them out to eat.”

Facing a resurgent Arizona squad that had already doubled last year’s win total courtesy of some key portal transfer additions, many were expecting a low-scoring affair with Cal’s offensive woes at the forefront of their concerns this season. However, in a bit of a role reversal, the Bears’ offense struck quickly with Ott’s 73-yard touchdown romp to start the game only to see the defense do their best impression of the matadors of Pamplona, allowing Arizona to march up and down the field with impunity to score touchdowns on three of their first four possessions.

Ott’s touchdown was a thing of beauty for Cal fans starved for running backs with breakaway speed, as he patiently waited for a gap off tackle and put it into 5th gear down the sideline, leaving several helpless Wildcat defenders in his wake just 3 minutes into the game. However, as quickly as the Bears took their lead, just 6 minutes later, they found themselves trailing 14-7 allowing back-to-back TD drives of 92 and 75 yards sandwiched around a Jamieson Sheehan punt, putting the Bears in a quick hole.

On the Wildcats' first scoring drive, Arizona cut right through the Cal defense, with a Jayden de Laura 17-yard completion to receiver Dorian Singer, followed by a 21-yard run by running back Michael Wiley on their first two plays. To add insult to injury redshirt frosh Akili Calhoun left the field slowly after an injury, leaving the already-depleted Cal D-line even further compromised, though Calhoun would later return. Three plays later, de Laura hit receiver Tanner McLachlan for a 25-yard reception followed by a 1-yard Jonah Coleman TD plunge and the Cats were off to the races.

Following a quick 4-and-out series featuring a 31-yard yard Ott run followed by three straight Plummer incompletions, Arizona went on the move again, gashing the Bears’ defense with consecutive gains of 11, 13, 14, 6, 15, 9, 11 and 12 yards before running back Michael Wiley punched it in from 1 to give the Cats a quick 14-7 lead barely more than 10 minutes into the game.

In danger of letting the game get away from them, the Bears came back to tie it at 14 to start the second quarter as Plummer shook off a sloppy first quarter with a 37-yard catch and run by receiver J.Michael Sturdivant, followed by a 13-yard completion to WR Jeremiah Hunter and a 16-yard TD completion to Sturdivant that the speedy redshirt frosh just managed to secure before going out of bounds for the score on his way to three receptions for 60 yards on the day.

Plummer rebounded from a rough start to go 18-for-28 for 245 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions on the day. His primary target was soph receiver Jeremiah Hunter who hauled in 5 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the contest.

No sooner had the Bears tied the game, Arizona sliced right through the Cal defense again, going 75 yards in just six plays, culminating in a de Laura touchdown pass to prized Wildcat recruit Tetairoa McMillan for a 24-yard TD in double coverage on a beautiful high point ball just beyond the reach of cornerback Isaiah Young to take a 21-14 lead after the PAT with 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Knocked down but not out, the Bears strung together a methodical 13-play, 82-yard TD drive of their own, with running back DeCarlos Brooks bulling his way in from the 3 to again knot the game with 6:16 left in the half.

A late Arizona field goal with 40 seconds left gave the visitors a 24-21 lead going into the locker room.

The Bears had not been particularly strong with second-half adjustments on both sides of the ball so far this season but it was clear they would need to keep scoring and somehow find a way to detail a Wildcat offense that had its way with the Cal D in the first half.

Check and check.

Unlike prior games this season, the Bears' offense went into hyperdrive in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions while holding Arizona scoreless to take a commanding 42-24 lead with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.

After stopping Arizona on the first possession, the Bears marched down the field for an 8-play, 87-yard drive culminating in a Keleki Latu 3-yard touchdown reception on a critical fourth down conversion to take a 28-24 lead they would never relinquish. The soph tight end also hauled in a 25-yard catch earlier in the drive to keep the chains moving. Fellow tight end Elijah Mojarro would also have his best day as a Bear so far, pulling in 3 catches for 45 yards in the win.

After stopping the Wildcats again, the Bears strung together a 5-play 58-yard TD drive featuring Ott’s 18-yard, never-say-die run through the Arizona defense to extend the Cal lead to 35-24.

Again, the Bears kept their momentum by stopping the Arizona drive at the Cal 29 on a sack and a forced de Laura fumble by OLB Orin Patu, recovered by OLB Myles Jernigan. 

The Bears again capitalized with a quick-strike 4-play TD drive culminating in a perfect 37-yard Plummer TD pass to Hunter to extend their lead to 42-24 just minutes into the fourth quarter.

After Arizona momentarily made things interesting with a fourth-quarter touchdown to narrow the Cal lead to 11, Ott exploded for another long TD, going 72 yards to paydirt to put the game out of reach by the final margin of 49-31.

Discussion from...

Ott's 274 Yards Powers Cal's Win Over Wildcats, 49-31

2,986 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by HoopDreams
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Really nice to see the Bears not abandon the run again like they did versus Notre Dame. It obviously helps when the offensive line is creating massive holes and Ott takes advantage, but when we had three straight incompletions in the second drive, I was worried Musgrove would again move away from running the ball.

If the O-line can stay healthy and play well, our offense is actually quite solid. We have a top notch running game, a QB who minimizes mistakes and solid receivers. Our defense just needs to make some key stops (like they did in the 2nd half) and we have potential to win a few more Pac-12 games.

Go Bears!
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This post is only showing up in Bear Growls forum for me, not on my main page; anyone else?

What a great game on offense. No sacks, Ott, the receivers!!!! We are VERY lucky the one handed INT call was reversed; I don't think I would have if I was the ref, and that would have been a Huge momentum flip.
I've read several reviews of Ott's TD runs and no one mentioned Vatikani's assistance on the second one. I'm thinking Ott is stopped without it…..true?
Go Bears! Way to get that monkey off your back.
It's the future that's always bright at Cal......
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Solid convincing win over a quality opponent. I hope the team and coaches celebrated the win Saturday night. Now let's take this on the road and grab a win in Pullman!
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