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Cal Football

Bears Lose Heartbreaker to UCLA, 35-28

November 25, 2022

BERKELEY - On a bright and sunny post-Turkey Day special, the Bears capped off their disappointing 2022 season with a season finale against their little sisters to the South in what could possibly be their last meeting at Memorial Stadium after a century of competition with the Bruins set for their stealth defection to the Big Ten after the 2023 season.

Donning their traditional Joe Roth memorial jerseys for the annual Joe Roth game, the Bears gave it a game, holding a 28-27 fourth quarter lead before a final Bruin TD gave UCLA hard-fought 35-28 win on Joe Roth Day.

After trading punts to start the game, the Bruins struck first, putting together an efficient 55-yard, 8-play drive to go up 7-0 after the Nicholas Barr-Mira PAT with 7:04 left in the first quarter. UCLA pounded the Bears on the ground on the drive with all of the yards on the drive coming on the ground by All-Pac-12 RB and QB Zach Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson until the 5-yard scoring toss to receiver Jake Bobo. The league-leading running back and QB would go on to pound the Bears on the ground with 119 and 88 yards a piece on their way to a major 352-67 ground game advantage.

The Bears’ offense continued to stumble in the next series, punting from deep in Bear territory. UCLA took over after the Jamieson Sheahan punt at the Bruin 41 and continued to have their way with the Cal defense, driving to the Cal 10 before their drive stalled. After Thompson-Robinson narrowly missed being sacked by safety Craig Woodson on the blitz on third down, his pass fell incomplete and Barr-Mira missed the ensuing field goal attempt with a clank off the upright to keep the UCLA lead at 7.

The Bears’ somnambulant offense finally woke up in their third possession as QB jack Plummer began to find his rhythm, completing four straight passes, culminating in a pretty pass, catch and run 46-yard TD to receiver J.Michael Sturdivant to knot the score at 7 after the Dario Longhetto PAT with 16 seconds left in the quarter. Plummer would go 24-for-34 for 294 yards and 4 TDs with no interceptions with probably his best game as a Golden Bear.

The Bruins continued to move the ball in their next possession, driving 65 yards in 15 plays, settling for a 44-yard Barr-Mira field goal to retake the lead, 10-7 with 8:33 left in the half.

The Bears’ offense continued to stay hot from there, going on an 8-play, 83-yard drive to take their first lead. After starting the drive slowly with a pair of penalties, the Bears got things rolling again, with Plummer hitting receiver Jeremiah for 10 followed by a PI call against Hunter that moved the ball into UCLA territory. On the next play, Plummer hit a streaking Hunter down the sideline for a 38-yard TD despite being mugged by Bruin cornerback Azizi Hearn on the play. Hunter would set personal records for catches, TDs and yardage, hauling in 8 catches for 153 yards and 2 TDs in the loss.  Sturdivant also had a good day, adding 5 catches for 70 yards and a TD.

After forcing a Bruin punt from their end zone on the next possession and taking over at the UCLA 44, Plummer made quick work of the UCLA defense, completing 4-of-4 passes culminating in a pretty 22-yard back-shoulder TD grab by Hunter to extend the Bears’ lead to 21-10 after the Longhetto PAT.

It seemed to be the perfect lead-in to the locker room with an 11-point lead and a kickoff coming to start the half with less than a minute left but the Bears’ prevent (a score) defense did anything but, allowing a 40 second, 5-play touchdown drive culminating in a far-too-easy Thompson-Robinson 19-yard TD scamper to narrow the Bears’ lead to 21-17 heading into the break.

The Bruins capitalized on their momentum after the break, putting together a 12-play 90-yard TD drive in their first possession, again culminating in a far-too-easy Thompson-Robinson 14-yard TD scramble to give the Bruins the 24-21 lead with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter.

After trading possessions, the Bears next blew an opportunity to retake the lead as returner Jeremiah Hunter fumbled on his return of a Barr-Mira punt, giving UCLA the ball at the Cal 37. They took advantage of the miscue, driving to the Cal 8 before settling for the Barr-Mira field goal to extend their lead to 27-21 with 14:01 left in the game.

After their quiet third quarter, the Bears finally got rolling again, putting together a quick 5-play, 82-yard scoring drive to retake the lead to start the final stanza.

Taking over at their 18, running back Jaydn Ott ran for 9 and took the next pass for another 12 to the Cal 39. Two plays later, Plummer hit a wide-open Hunter for a 49-yard completion that would’ve been an easy TD if the talented redshirt soph didn’t have to wait for the underthrown pass. Wasting no time, Plummer hit Ott in the flat on the next play, with the elusive frosh running back evading several defenders before taking it to paydirt to take a 28-27 lead with 11:16 left in the game.

The Bears were unable to hold the lead long as the Bruins went back on the move, driving 73 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead on an easy 5-yard Charbonnet run up the middle. After converting on a 2-point pass to Bobo, the Bruins took a 35-28 lead with 7:53 remaining.

After the Bears’ next drive went nowhere, UCLA took over at their 20 after a 52-yard Sheahan punt. The former Aussie rules punter was his typical unconventional self all game with his assortment of usual running kicks, opposite foot (left-footed) and line drive, skidding punts, keeping the Bruins off balance.

With the chance to put the game away, UCLA drove the ball to the Cal 33 where they faced fourth-and-two with 3:01 remaining. The Bears would need a dramatic stop to have a chance to win. 

They did not get it. Hitting Charbonnet at the line of scrimmage, the Bears’ line failed to hold, with the powerful senior plowing away for a 3-yard gain.

One minute later, the Bears would get one more chance for a last-gasp stop.

This time they would get it, with defensive pressure forcing Thompson Robinson into an errant fourth pass with the Bears taking over at their 23 with 1:58 left.

Then disaster struck.

Facing 4th-and-6 with 1:35 remaining, Plummer hit Ott for a quick toss that the speedy frosh took for an apparent first down at the Cal 38 but a big hit by linebacker Kain Medrano jarred the ball loose with Carl Jones, Jr. jumping on the fumble to ice the game and give the 9-3/6-3 Bruins the victory as they ran out the clock.

The season ended much as it had gone most of the season: Signs of hope from talented young players combined with failures to make the big plays when it counted the most.

“The record’s not acceptable for the players or the program,” said head coach Justin Wilcox after the loss. “But I know what we’re capable of doing as a program. There’s going to be additions and there’s going to be changes as we move forward but I’m very, very optimistic about what we can accomplish here.”

Sixth year senior Daniel Scott played his 49th and final game of his Cal career in the game. He finished his collegiate career with a stellar performance, adding 16 tackles (6 solo) along with 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup and a forced fumble.

He was asked what he’d remember most about his sixth and final season with the Bears.

“I think with this season, I'll remember the locker room with the guys," said Scott. "We had a decent amount of turnover from last year, just having new faces, young guys ready to go. Just making connections, watching film with them, working out in the weight room, stretching with them, going to the field with them, those are the bonds you build."

Fifth-year senior Jackson Sirmon also had a solid game with 13 tackles, ending the season with 104 tackles overall, finishing third in the Pac-12. Sirmon retains another season of eligibility due to redshirting his freshman year in 2018 and the 2020 Covid year awarded all players due to playing time restrictions. He noted that he’s likely to make his decision in the next couple weeks after the game.

And last but not least, Cal announcer Joe Starkey in his last post game press conference of his 48 year career at Cal:


Discussion from...

Bears Lose Heartbreaker to UCLA, 35-28

2,707 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by MoragaBear
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Unfortunately, I could not attend but my wife and girls plus 10 friends went and supported our boys. I got a chance to watch the 2nd quarter until the end, this one hurt Jim! What a roller coaster of emotions today, Cal never fails to deliver on this! The highs are good and the lows are ooof! Until next year! Great seeing you at Corvallis Jim. Congratulations on your kids, sounds like you raised a good bunch friend! Go Bears!
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DLSbear said:

Unfortunately, I could not attend but my wife and girls plus 10 friends went and supported our boys. I got a chance to watch the 2nd quarter until the end, this one hurt Jim! What a roller coaster of emotions today, Cal never fails to deliver on this! The highs are good and the lows are ooof! Until next year! Great seeing you at Corvallis Jim. Congratulations on your kids, sounds like you raised a good bunch friend! Go Bears!

Thanks Mike! Great to have Michael back in the program, too. Hopefully he's around for a long time!
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