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Cal Football

Bears Fall to #8 Oregon, 42-24

October 29, 2022

MEMORIAL STADIUM -After getting trounced by defending national champion Georgia to start the season in their first game under new head coach Dan Lanning, the 8th-ranked Ducks came to Berkeley on a serious roll, winning six straight, including a big win over undefeated UCLA last weekend. They stayed on their roll Saturday, methodically wearing down the Bears with their speed and athleticism in their 42-24 victory before a crowd of 37,077 at Memorial.

“You’ve got to make them earn more than we did,” said Wilcox. “They have a very good team. A lot of talent out there. Defensively, we had too many uncharacteristic coverage busts and then when we were in good shape, we didn’t do a good enough job getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. He’s a guy that can throw it early in the down or buy time and throw it late. As you saw, he can scramble (12 rushes for 59 yards and 3 rushing TDs). So I think defensively, those are the things that showed up during the game.”

The Cal defense often had Nix on the run throughout much of the game, only to see him elude oncoming rushers for big gains, both on the ground or through the air and often in 3rd-and-long situations. He finished the day completing 27-of-35 for 412 yards and 3 TDs through the air along with 2 interceptions.

For Cal, Plummer went 20-for-33 for 214 yards and 1 TD with 2 interceptions. Receiver Jeremiah Hunter led the Bears with 96 yards on 5 receptions after returning from an injury that saw him miss the last game. Receiver J.Michael Sturdivant hauled in 6 balls for 71 yards and a TD. On the ground, the Bears were led by running back Jadyn Ott with 57 yards on 14 carries.

After stopping Oregon on their first drive and forcing a punt, the Ducks had 4th-and-4 on their next drive at the Cal 14. Coming into the game, Oregon was an otherworldly 10-for-10 on 4th down opportunities but the Bears’ defense held, forcing a turnover on downs.

Taking over on the Oregon 14, the Bears drew first blood, putting together an impressive drive that included first downs on four of their first five plays against the stout Oregon defense. The key play was a beautiful back-shoulder Jack Plummer pass hauled in with tight coverage by receiver J.Michael Sturdivant for 35. After driving to the Oregon 9, the Bears were unable to convert and settled for a 28-yard Dario Longhetto field goal with 4:01 in the first quarter -a lead they’d take into the second quarter.

The lead didn’t last long as the Ducks went on a drive of their own two minutes later, starting out in great field position at the Cal 47 following a 21-yard Kris Hutson punt return. Following a first down conversion, Oregon QB Bo Nix hit running back Sean Dollars for 26 yards to the Bears’ 10. 3 plays later, Nix took the shotgun snap and ran it in for a 4-yard TD up the middle, the first of two first half TD runs for Nix.

The Bears answered quickly as Plummer hit receiver Jeremiah Hunter with a perfect strike down the sideline for 57 yards to the Ducks’ 18 on the first play of the drive. Four plays later facing 2nd-and-goal from the 6, Plummer threaded the needle and threw a perfect pass in the corner of the end zone to a streaking  Sturdivant, who made a nice grab and toe tap to haul in the TD pass, putting the Bears up 10-7 two minutes into the 2nd quarter.

Oregon threatened to retake the lead, driving to the Cal 10 in just four plays until Cal OLB Orin Patu struck, first hauling down Nix for a 5-yard loss in Oregon’s second -yes, you read that right, only their second negative yardage play of the season. Then on the next play, Patu came up with a clutch interception at the Cal 4, keeping the Ducks off the board.

After the Bears were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, Oregon went on an 8-play, 63-yard scoring drive, with Nix punching it in with an 8-yard run up the middle to give the Ducks a 14-10 lead with 4 minutes left in the quarter.

After driving to midfield on the ensuing possession, Plummer was intercepted on a poorly-thrown ball and returned to the Cal 47. After consecutive 25 and 11-yard completions to Hutson, Nix hit running back Bucky Irvin for an 11-yard TD to extend the Oregon lead to 21-10 that they’d take into the locker room.

Taking the second-half kickoff, Oregon picked up right where they left off, putting together a quick 5-play, 75-yard drive, hitting paydirt on a 29-yard catch and run by speedy receiver Noah Whittington to extend their lead to 28-10.

The Bears tried to put together an answer, driving 70 yards to the Oregon 5 but a holding play by center Brian Driscoll nullified a Mavin Anderson reception, pushing the Bears back to 3rd-and-20 at the Oregon 27, where they eventually had to settle for a field goal attempt that the Ducks blocked -eerily reminiscent of their 2020 and eerily 2021 placekicking and special teams struggles.

Oregon stretched their lead to 25 on the first drive of the fourth quarter, going 56 yards in 7 plays punctuated by Nix’s third TD rush of the day on a 1-yard keeper off tackle to extend their lead to 35-10 after the PAT with 12:19 remaining.

On the following drive, redshirt frosh QB Kai Millner saw his second action of the season. Taking over at their 25, the redshirt frosh picked up a 13-yard gain on a scramble and hit redshirt soph receiver Tommy Christakos on an 18-yard strike to move the ball to the Oregon 23. Running back Damien Moore picked up 12 yards on the next play then Millner struck paydirt, hitting senior receiver Monroe Young for an 11-yard TD strike to bring the score to 35-17 with 7:38 remaining.

Oregon continued to move the ball with impunity, scoring again as Nix hit wide-open tight end Patrick Herbert on a crossing route he easily took to the house to push their lead to 42-17.

Millner again had success moving the Bears on the next possession, completing the first two passes of the drive to Young for 6 and Christakos for 14 before hitting receiver Justin Baker, taking advantage of a fallen defender on the 55-yard catch and run down the sideline to bring it to the final score of 42-24. 

MIllner finished the day an impressive 8-for-11 (73%) for 114 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions on the day.

“I thought he did a good job when he got the opportunity to go in there,” said Wilcox of Millner, who indicated that Plummer will be maintaining his starting position.

On defense, the Bears were led by MLB Jackson Sirmon with 13 tackles a ½ TFL and 11 tackles and a ½ TFL from LB Femi Oladejo, who has been limited of late by injury. They also got 10 tackles and a TFL from safety Craig Woodson and 9 tackles from safety Daniel Scott.

There’s some things that happened at the end of the first half and the start of the second, if we would’ve performed a bit better, we could’ve made that game very competitive. We didn’t do that and the game finished like it did. And at this point, nobody feels sorry for us and we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to focus on our individual improvement and play through it.

We’ve got a lot of football left to play. They work really hard. They’re competitive guys. We all are. We want to put our best foot forward every time we get a chance to compete. We didn’t do that today. Ultimately we’ve got to put more points on the board.”

“We’re just not catching a rhythm,” said Hunter of the offense, who has continued to struggle after putting up 49 points against Arizona. “We’re catching sparks during the game but we’re having a tough time catching a rhythm and staying consistent. Once we find our rhythm and stay consistent, we’ll be alright. We just need to get it back.”

We didn’t play good enough at all,” said Woodson of the defense, who gave up their most points of the season. “it’s just the little things, especially in the back end, just doing your assignment. We just really didn’t get it done today. That was a big thing during the big explosive plays we gave up. We just didn’t execute our assignment and lock up. It definitely wasn’t a good defensive game at all for us and we’ve got to get it cleaned up.”

The Bears fell to 3-5/1-4 on the season and will next hit the road for Saturday night’s showdown vs. USC at LA Memorial Coliseum at 7:30.

Discussion from...

Bears Fall to #8 Oregon, 42-24

4,209 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Bobodeluxe
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Milner's loose and positive presence was great to see. He was able to step up and stay in the pocket. Was he throwing against a few back-ups? Who cares! He got game time FINALLY, showed quick release, and ran well but kept his eyes downfield well. I love the concept of developing and playing the guys you recruit. Some guys show well in practice, then not so well in games. Plummer is tough but seems slightly rattled - and needs a game or two of rest. Put your foot down, Wilcox, and force the old man to play the kid with the hot hand.
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