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Bears Hang on For 42-39 Victory Over WSU

November 11, 2023
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Brian Driscoll strolled into the interview room wearing a thick necklace around his neck and another one with a sparkling dollar sign medallion.  

“This is what I usually look like,” Driscoll joked to reporters. “One thing that’s always stuck in my mind was Ryan Fitzpatrick, I think it was like 2016, had DeSean Jackson, a Cal guy, all his jewelry. I promised myself if I got to a press conference, I’d do the same.”

Driscoll’s look was another highlight on a day the Bears picked up an uneven but critical 42-39 win over Washington State on Senior Day in the final Pac-12 game at Memorial Stadium. His recovery of Jadyn Ott’s fumble in the end zone helped give Cal a seemingly comfortable 21-7 lead at the time.

But it was the Bears defense. which had to shoulder a lot of the blame for the Bears’ four-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s game, which made the biggest impact.

Even though Washington State held the ball for nearly 36 minutes and ran off 97 plays for 438 yards, Cal repeatedly made impact plays throughout the afternoon.

Linebacker Cade Uluave had the biggest impact in the game. He forced a fumble then returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. He then clinched the game with an interception off a Hail Mary throw from Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward as time ran out in the fourth quarter. The frosh linebacker also led the team for the second straight week in tackles with 9, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

Fellow linebacker David Reese was also a dominant force with two forced fumbles and three of the Bears’ season-high six sacks. Nohl Williams added a 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown, making Cal the first team since 1992 to score three touchdowns on fumble recoveries, according to the NCAA.

“Our defense, they all came up big,” said Cal quarterback Fernando Mendoza, who was wearing a shirt normally worn by Driscoll in walkthrough practices. “I know our defense is elite and it saved the offense today and it saved me.”

Mendoza passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns and was aided by Jadyn Ott’s fourth 100-yard game of the season. Ott finished with 167 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, and became the first Cal player since Patrick Laird in 2017 to top the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

The Bears were especially sharp in the first half when they put up 28 points. When they led 42-24 after Williams’ scoop and score with 9:26 remaining, it was one of the few moments Cal fans thought they could relax.

But Washington State kept creeping back in and got within 42-39 late in the fourth quarter, even lining up for a field goal attempt from 48 yards that would’ve tied the game with 50 seconds left but the kick sailed wide left. The Cougars still had a chance to win it at the end after the Bears failed to pick up a first down and close out the game but Uluave intercepted Ward’s last-ditch pass to secure the victory for Cal.

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The win keeps the Bears’ hopes for a postseason bowl game alive. Cal ((4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) needs to win its final games, at Stanford next week and at UCLA on Nov. 25, to get in.  

It was also an important win for Mendoza, his first as Cal’s starter after beginning the season third on the depth chart.

“I felt great about the game. I’m deeply honored to be able to lead these guys,” Mendoza said. “The first W, it’s one of many. We still need these next two wins, so that’s our goal right now. We’re going to celebrate tonight and have a good time. However, we need to be focused and keep on going.”

Discussion from...

Bears Hang on For 42-39 Victory Over WSU

2,992 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by dimitrig
upsetof86
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A conference win is a valuable win. One down two to go.
chazzed
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Love it, love it, love it!

Congratulations to the seniors for winning their last game at Memorial!
bencgilmore
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Otts take on the Pac12 is hysterical
dimitrig
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upsetof86 said:

A conference win is a valuable win. One down two to go.

Which conference is WSU in? Do we know yet?

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