BERKELEY -- Texas-born running back Vic Enwere rushed for 23 yards on eight carries in the first half, as California staked itself to a 35-33 lead over visiting Texas Longhorns, but it wasn't so much those yards, as his two scores. It's the second time in his career that he's had a multiple-touchdown game, and the last one came on Sept. 19, 2015, in Austin.
Cal and the Longhorns traded early scores, with the Bears marching 84 yards down field -- and Webb completing 4-of-5 passes for 80 of those yards -- and finishing with a 15-yard fade to Jordan Veasy, and Texas answering with a four-yard run from Chris Warren, who had 66 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns before the break.
That score and Texas's next touchdown -- a 12-yard Warren run which featured three broken tackles -- came on drives where the Bears defense had a 15-yard penalty. The first was a roughing the passer penalty, and the second was a facemask by Cameron Saffle.
In contrast, Texas didn't commit its first offensive penalty until there was 3:42 left in the first half -- a false start by Brandon Hodges.
Up 17-7, Texas, though, committed a costly penalty of its own. After a 24-yard return by Muhammad (who had a big return-saving tackle of his own at the end of the first quarter), Webb hit a 24-yard inside screen to Hansen, then got a gain of 11 from Enwere on the ground, and another four on a dump-off to the Missouri City, Tex., native. Webb, from the 29, looked up top for his favorite target Hansen, but just overthrew him. 10 yards back, though, there was a flag: Defensive holding.
With new life at the Longhorns' 19-yard line, Webb found freshman Demetris Robertson on the left. The first-year five-star made two defenders miss, before being brought down at the three. The ball popped loose as he hit the ground, and the Longhorns returned it to the Cal 45, with only Muhammad providing the stop. THat play, though, was called back, as Robertson was ruled down. Two Enwere runs later, and the Bears had pulled to within a score, down 17-14, as the first quarter came to a close.
A D'Onta Foreman four-yard touchdown with 13:31 left in the half put the Longhorns up, 24-14, but even that was short-lived.
Swoopes -- who had taken every quarterback snap back of center since Shane Buechele went to the locker room with 7:16 left in the first quarter -- lofted a slant to Collin Johnson, that went off the leaping Johnson's fingertips and into the waiting hands of Nwokocha for his first career interception.
A pair of runs by Tre Watson, a 38-yard bomb by Webb to Hansen along the near sideline and two powerful Enwere runs later, Cal was back to within three points, with 9:43 left in the half.
Buechele, though, returned to lead the next drive, and promptly marched Texas 80 yards down field, completing 3 of his first 4 passes, including a 41-yard touchdown to Jacorey Warrick over Cameron Walker to put Texas ahead, 31-21.
Khalfani Muhammad longest return of the night (he had four for 115 yards) -- a 44-yard take back -- set up a masterful drive by Webb to draw the Bears to within three, yet again. On third-and-six, Webb hit Melquise Stovall for nine yards on a quick out, but then missed Stovall diving at the sticks on first-and-10 at the Texas 45. After Muhammad ran for a yard, Webb approached the line on third-and-nine. With seven seconds left, Webb changed the play, setting Muhammad in motion, going right. Calling for the snap with two seconds left on the play clock, Webb looked to Muhammad on the right side, getting the defense to bite, then swung back around to the left to hit Brandon Singleton for 15 yards. Two plays later, he lofted a 29-yard touchdown pass to Stovall, off a double move outside release.
After the Stovall touchdown, the Bears forced a punt with a safety blitz sack from Khari Vanderbilt, but the Bears squandered the ensuing drive, with a Malcolm Roach sack of Webb. Texas safety Brandon Jones blocked Dylan Klumph's punt through the back of the end zone for a safety, putting the Longhorns up by five with 1:32 to go in the first half.
Rubenzer's 32-yard interception return set the stage for the Bears to take a 35-33 lead with 55 seconds left on the 23-yard fade to Hansen, who flashed the Horns Down sign in celebration.
Bears committed a 15-yard penalty -- this one an unsportsmanlike conduct on DeVante Wilson after an incomplete pass by Buechele.
But, the defense held, preventing a score on each of the Longhorns' final three possessions of the half, the safety notwithstanding.