BERKELEY -- California is now 5-0 for the first time since 2007, in large part thanks to 7.0 sacks -- including a career-high 2.5 from Kyle Kragen (who now has 4.0 in his past two games) -- against visiting Washington State, and a crucial fourth-quarter interception on the part of Damariay Drew ("I was trying to take it to the crib," Drew laughed) that helped to seal a 34-28 win for the Bears on Homecoming afternoon.
Cal now has 18 sacks and 18 turnovers on the season. Last year, the Bears had 16 sacks and 17 turnovers.
"It's important for us to go out there and make a statement," Drew said. That statement could very well come next week in the mountains of the Pac-12.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1594986-breakdown-chopping... The win secured Cal's spot on ESPN College Game Day next week, when the Bears face off against No. 10 Utah at 8:15 p.m. MT at Rice Eccles Stadium.
"They just believe," said head coach Sonny Dykes. "That may be the toughest thing, the toughest goal to reach in a program, to get the guys where they believe. When things aren't going their way, they have to believe that they're going to make a play and have a chance to win the game. That's a hard thing to get to in our program. The way you get that is by working incredibly hard and investing and caring about each other. When you do that, you believe you deserve to have a chance to win."
"Kragen started making moves inside, collapsing the pocket. When you get that quarterback out of the pocket, that makes a big difference," said defensive tackle James Looney. "The offense always had to save us [last year]. Defense wins championships ... We definitely have a chip on our shoulder. We posted the  passing yards that they got on us last year. We didn't want that to happen again."
McClure was key in the second half, coming up with a 45-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery touchdown after a quick-change punt by Cougars head coach Mike Leach led to a fake punt and a rush by punter Zach Charme. A big hit by Darius Allensworth knocked the ball loose, and McClure took it the rest of the way, making the score 21-20, with the Cougars still in the lead, with 12:46 left in the third quarter.
"They're playing so well right now," quarterback Jared Goff said of his defense, which was one of the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision each of the last two seasons, ranking 125th in passing defense in 2013 and 2014. "They have the biggest chip on their shoulder you could ever imagine. They're solid right now, and I expect it to be like that all the way through."
After the McClure score, though, Washington State stormed back, marching 79 yards in 15 plays for another touchdown. Washington State's next drive was buried by McClure's disguised safety blitz sack, and the Bears then did some marching of their own, as Goff (33-of-45, 390 yards, 1 INT, 4 TDs) completed four straight passes for 53 yards, finishing off with a 20-yard TD strike to his favorite target Kenny Lawler -- his second of the day -- hitting the ailing wide receiver (who was throwing up all game on the sidelines, with some sort of stomach flu) on the outside shoulder in the front corner of the end zone, with Lawler just getting a foot in. It was Lawler's second highlight reel grab of the day, following a one-handed, between-two-defenders catch for the 21st touchdown of his career with 34 seconds left in the first half.
"I almost forgot about that," Lawler grinned after the game. "It just happened so fast. I worked my technique, and the technique is your craft. As a receiver, if you don't have technique, it's going to be hard making catches."
Does anything Lawler do surprise Goff anymore?
"No, nothing," he said. "That one-hand catch he caught around the defender, I've seen that 100 times. That back-shoulder catch around the defender, I've thrown him that ball 500 times."
"They have an unwritten language," Dykes said. "Jared can look at Kenny, and he'll give him a head nod back."
Goff was then intercepted trying to go for two, but Lawler managed to drag down Shalom Luani before the 50. Lawler, though, had to be helped off the field, leaving the heroics up to the hands team on kickoff.
Kicker Matt Anderson had missed a PAT, and had kicked one kickoff out of bounds, but the staff still trusted him enough to get the onside kick down, and he did exactly that, with Darius Powe slipping beneath the outside defender, flopping onto the ball and sliding out of bounds with it.
"It's something that we talked about," Dykes said. "That's kind of a hard kick to execute, and you have to credit Matt. He did a fantastic job kicking it, and Darius [Powe] did a great job making the play. We were looking for the right time to call it, and we just felt at that point we had a bit of momentum. We thought it could be something that could really change the game."
Change the game it did. Goff go the ball back and hit Maurice Harris for a 24-yard tunnel screen touchdown, putting the Bears up for good, and then found Bryce Treggs on the left edge of the end zone for the two-point conversion that was initially ruled a failure, until replay by the officials overturned the call, and gave the Bears the extra pair with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
While Allensworth and Powe had already gotten their fair share of the action, Cal's third Darius -- Darius White -- who'd seen limited action after the first quarter -- forced a fourth-quarter fumble by receiver Gabe Marks at the Bears' 21, saving perhaps a go-ahead Cougars score.
Goff was sacked twice on the ensuing drive, through an offensive line that struggled all day to give Goff time and to make room for the running game, which only churned out 79 yards, and a paltry 22 yards on 10 carries from Daniel Lasco. On Cal's next drive, though, the Bears got a third-and-36 run by Vic Enwere on a draw play with the Bears backed down deep.
"I'm not really concerned at all [about the run game], because Vic had a 42-yard run that probably won us the game at the end," Goff said. "I'm not concerned at all. WSU's defense did some stuff we weren't prepared for, and caught us off-guard early."
"The funny thing about it is, any time you hand it to Vic, something strange could happen," Dykes said. "[The run game is] a big concern. Two weeks in a row now, we haven't been able to convert on fourth-and-one in big situations in ballgames. We got stuffed twice last week, and got stuffed twice this week. That's the type of stuff we have to get better at if we're going to beat better teams."
Cal burned 5:31 off the clock on that drive, but saw Washington State quarterback Luke Falk start to drive his team down the field. Drew then came up with the pick on second-and-eight, allowing the Bears to run the ball behind Khalfani Muhammad for 3:17, before Cole Leininger punted through the end zone to give the Cougars just 12 seconds on the clock -- not enough to mount a comeback.
Falk started the game 5-of-6 for 50 yards, and finished 35-for-49 for 389 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, with his leading receiver being Marks, who had 10 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.
Lawler caught six balls for 105 yards, as Goff hit eight different players for two passes or more. Treggs also recorded a touchdown grab -- the second TD pass of the game by Goff -- on a pass where the junior signal-caller had the looming Destiny Vaeao in his face. That touchdown tied the game at 7-7 with 1:48 left in the first quarter.