Arizona defeats COVID-decimated Bears 10-3, snaps 20-game skid

The Cal Bears Ethan Saunders defensive end (99) gets a sack on the Arizona Wildcats quarterback (10) Will Plummer on Sat Nov 6, 2021 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson (Cal Bears photo)

By Daniel Dullum
Saturday, November 6, 2021

Arizona (1-8) took advantage of a COVID-19-depleated California (3-6) roster and defeated the Golden Bears 10-3 Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., snapping the Wildcats’ 20-game losing streak.

The Golden Bears (3-6) were without starting quarterback Chase Garbers, three starting offensive linemen, and three defensive starters, all held out of the game for testing positive. In addition, Cal assistant coaches Geep Chryst, Andrew Browning, Angus McClure and Tre Watson also tested positive and did not travel with the team, according to ESPN.

Cal issued a statement on Friday, announcing that 99 percent of its roster was vaccinated. The combination of positive tests and injuries reportedly left the Golden Bears with 42 scholarship players for the Pac-12 game.

The Golden Bears had two positive COVID tests earlier in the week, and the city of Berkeley then required the entire team to be tested on Wednesday, revealing the outbreak.

The COVID outbreak had a direct effect on the Bears’ offense. With the starting center, left guard and left tackle sidelined, backup quarterback Ryan Glover – a transfer from Western Carolina – completed 11-of-29 passes for 94 yards and was sacked four times. To compound matters, Cal gained only 28 total rushing yards on 24 carries.

After a scoreless first half, Arizona (1-8) took the first lead of the game on a 29-yard field goal by Tyler Loop with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter. Cal tied the game at 3-3 four minutes later when Nick Lopez, filling in for Dario Longhetto, booted a 34-yard field goal.

Arizona surged ahead with 2:21 remaining in the fourth quartert on Michael Wileuy’s 30-yard touchdown run.

The Wildcats’ top two quarterbacks, Jordan McCloud ad Gunner Cruz, were already out for the season. Three backups, Will Plummer, Jamarye Joiner and Luke Ashworth, each attemped at least one pass. Plummer had all 16 of Arizona’s completed passes on 28 attempts for 129 yards and one of three Wildcat passes intercepted.

Next Saturday, the Golden Bears return home to host Southern California (4-5).

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