Cal stakes Idaho to 17-0 lead, rallies to avoid upset at home, 31-17

Sun, Sep 17, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Cal stakes Idaho to 17-0 lead, rallies to avoid upset at home, 31-17

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Sam Jackson V scampered for a 27-yard touchdown to give California its first lead early in the second half as the Golden Bears rebounded from a sluggish start on Saturday to beat Idaho 31-17, avoiding what would have been their first defeat to an FCS opponent.

Cal (2-1) fell behind 17-0 early but rallied with 31 straight points, dominating the second half behind a strong run game and a defense that pitched a shutout after halftime. Cal finished with 256 rushing yards to Idaho's 108 and forced three turnovers while not committing any.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox said he expected a much better start. He felt that his team was ready to play - but they "just didn't play well."

"It was great to see the guys battle through that," Wilcox said. "You don't want that to happen, but it did. I'm proud of how they fought through it. We played better throughout the game. It just felt real streaky on our part."

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The Bears opened up their first double-digit lead late in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Ifanse, filling in for injured starter Jadyn Ott. Ifanse finished with 137 yards on 22 carries, and the score gave Cal a 28-17 lead heading into the fourth. A Vandals' fumble and recovery by Cal on the next Idaho possession gave the Bears some breathing room.

"Our goal is three turnovers a game so we can give the ball back to the offensive guys, so they can put points on the scoreboard," said defensive back Nohl Williams, who had an interception in the second quarter.

Jackson came off the bench in the Bears' loss to Auburn last week and started Saturday. His touchdown put Cal up for good, after it seemed the Bears were in danger of a home upset. Idaho (2-1) was looking for its second straight win over an FBS opponent, coming off a resounding 33-6 win over Nevada last week.

The TCU transfer said he doesn't have much experience, with Saturday being the first full game at the collegiate level.

"So I feel like seven or eight games, it'll be like night and day, honestly," Jackson said.

Gevani McCoy, who was 24-for-42 passing for 248 yards, led the Vandals to a 17-0 start. After a field goal on its first drive, Idaho found the end zone late in the first quarter on a 19-yard run by Anthony Woods, who turned a broken play into a touchdown that put Idaho in front 10-0 after a quarter.

Idaho scored on its first drive of the second quarter, when McCoy scrambled up the middle on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line.

Cal responded with 14 unanswered points before halftime on passing touchdowns on consecutive drives by Jackson. The quarterback threaded the needle to Jeremiah Hunter for a 20-yard touchdown pass, then after the Bears stopped Idaho on on downs, found a wide-open Trond Grizzell for a 36-yard score for his first career touchdown catch.

Idaho entered the game winless against Cal in four tries and the game was the first meeting between the schools since 1934.

Idaho head coach Jason Eck said he thought his team had control of the game up 17-0, but didn't elevate their game after Cal found a rhythm. Eck called the Bears' defensive line the best the Vandals would face all season.

"There will be some positives we can build on, but we've got to play better," Eck said. "Cal's a lot better than Nevada, and we're going to play other teams that are a lot better than Nevada in conference."

THE TAKEAWAY

Idaho: The Vandals had their way with a Mountain West opponent last week in Nevada and controlled much of the first half against Cal. But the playmakers featured on a Pac-12 team - even one not expected to compete in a conference crown - were ultimately too much for Idaho.

California: The Bears seemed to fix their stagnant offense before halftime and continued to roll coming out of the locker room. They will, however, need to get off to a better start next week on the road against No. 8 Washington. The defense continued to be a positive point, forcing three more turnovers to give them 10 on the season. Cal entered the day leading the Pac-12 in turnovers forced.

OTT'S STATUS UNCERTAIN

Wilcox would not commit to Ott's status for next week against Washington, though he said earlier this week that he anticipated his star rusher being available on Saturday. Ott, who left last Saturday's game against Auburn with an injury after trying to hurdle a tackler, was Cal's most prolific offensive player last season.

UP NEXT

Idaho: Hosts Sacramento State on Saturday.

California: Plays at Washington on Saturday.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

Sam Jackson V scampered for a 27-yard touchdown to give California its first lead early in the second half as the Golden Bears rebounded from a sluggish start on Saturday to beat Idaho 31-17, avoiding what would have been their first defeat to an FCS opponent.

Cal (2-1) fell behind 17-0 early but rallied with 31 straight points, dominating the second half behind a strong run game and a defense that pitched a shutout after halftime. Cal finished with 256 rushing yards to Idaho's 108.

The Bears opened up their first double-digit lead late in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Ifanse, filling in for injured starter Jadyn Ott. Ifanse finished with 137 yards on 22 carries, and the score gave Cal a 28-17 lead heading into the fourth. A Vandals' fumble and recovery by Cal on the next Idaho possession gave the Bears some breathing room.

Jackson came off the bench in the Bears' loss to Auburn last week and started on Saturday. His touchdown put Cal up for good, after it seemed the Bears were in danger of a home upset. Idaho (2-1) was looking for its second straight win over an FBS opponent, coming off a resounding 33-6 win over Nevada last week.

Gevani McCoy, who was 24-for-42 passing for 248 yards, led the Vandals to a 17-0 start. After a field goal on its first drive, Idaho found the end zone late in the first quarter on a 19-yard run by Anthony Woods, who turned a broken play into a touchdown that put Idaho in front 10-0 after a quarter.

Idaho scored on its first drive of the second quarter, when McCoy scrambled up the middle on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line.

Cal responded with 14 unanswered points before halftime on passing touchdowns on consecutive drives by Jackson. The quarterback threaded the needle to Jeremiah Hunter for a 20-yard touchdown pass, and then after the Bears defense forced a turnover on downs, Jackson found a wide-open Trond Grizzell for a 36-yard score. It was Grizzle's first career touchdown catch.

Idaho entered the game winless against Cal in four tries and the game was the first was the first meeting between the schools since 1934.

THE TAKEAWAY

Idaho: The Vandals had their way with a Mountain West opponent last week in Nevada and controlled much of the first half against Cal. But the playmakers featured on a Pac-12 team - even one not expected to compete in a conference crown - were ultimately too much for Idaho.

California: The Bears seemed to fix their stagnant offense before halftime and continued to roll coming out of the locker room. They will, however, need to get off to a better start next week on the road against No. 8 Washington.

UP NEXT

Idaho: Hosts Sacramento State on Saturday.

California: Plays at Washington on Saturday.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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