Good, Bad And All That’s Between: Bears’ effectiveness wanes then surges in 28-21 loss to Washington

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–At some point, the Cal Bears went from hanging around to hanging touchdowns.

And at some point, the Washington Huskies went from being lulled to sleep to no lull at all.

Cal’s 28-21 loss to the visiting Huskies was a strange affair. But college football games often are strange. Only winning makes them more familiar.

Cal’s biggest misgiving on a Saturday night in which their offensive showed up late, and their defense departed early? It’s okay to be fashionably late if you can fashion together a win.

“We played some good football in stretches in the game, but we lost so that sucks obviously,” said linebacker Jackson Sirmon, who led Cal with 11 tackles.

“I thought our players gave us everything they had,” coach Justin Wilcox said. “In the first half we didn’t get quite enough going on offense. In the second half, we needed one more stop… somewhere. And we didn’t get it done. They’re a good team. That’s the bottom line.”

The Huskies piled up the yardage as their offense has done all season with an average of 528 yards per game coming in. But in a 245-yard first half, Washington came away with just two field goals and a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Michael Penix saw a couple of his early passes dropped. A curious decision by Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer to attempt a field goal when his offense faced a 4th-and-3 at Cal’s 18-yard line preceded Peyton Henry’s second field goal.

A conservative Huskies offense? Yes, in part. Previously DeBoer had attempted fourth down conversions 19 times in seven games, making them one of the most, aggressive attacks in the nation. But with Cal sputtering on offense–just 83 yards in the first half–Washington took what it was easily afforded.

The Bears announced after the game that standout, offensive tackle Michael Cindric will miss the remainder of the season saying only that he’ll require surgery in advance of next season. His absence prompted a second, reshuffling of Cal’s offensive line in less than a month. That essentially cost Cal’s offense early as they rushed for just five yards and saw Jack Plummer take a pair of damaging sacks that killed Cal drives.

Plummer gamely came out firing in the second half, marching Cal to a 7-6 lead after he connected with J. Michael Sturdivant on a 8-yard touchdown pass. Immediately, Plummer had Jadyn Ott and Mason Starling (starting in place of the injured Jeremiah Hunter) engaged as well.

Five minutes into the second half, the Bears had the lead and momentum. The Huskies were left to answer for their porous, secondary that was thrown on repeatedly in losses to UCLA and Arizona State. And they responded behind Penix, the national leader in passing yardage.

Washington’s 11-play drive capped by Cameron Davis’ 6-yard run to the end zone, and the ensuing two-point conversion with Penix throwing to Ja’Lynn Polk restored a 14-7 lead for the visitors.

Penix would add a pair of touchdown passes early in the fourth. His 36-yard completion to Richard Newton put the Huskies in control, leading 28-14 with 10:19 remaining.

Down two touchdowns, Cal didn’t go away. They put together a 12-play drive that was crystallized by Mavin Anderson’s leaping, touchdown catch on 4th-and-7. Anderson also contributed a 34-yard catch on the drive that brought Cal within 28-21 with 6:11 remaining.

Plummer finished 21 of 34, 245 yards passing and three touchdowns. But his last gasp attempt at a game-tying score died with an incomplete pass at the Washington 42-yard line with 28 seconds left.

“There’s a lot of belief, and we keep fighting,” DeBoer said of his Huskies (6-2). “And most importantly, we just need to keep getting better. And when you really try to narrow it down, don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Just get better”

The Bears (3-4) face another high-scoring opponent in Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Huskies outlast Bears in overtime 31-24 in Seattle

The Cal Bears running back Damien Moore (28) is caught up from below with a no look stop by the Washington Huskies Kyle Gordon during the first half action at University Washington in Seattle on Sat Sep 25, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Morris Phillips and Michael Duca

With the score all knotted up at 24-24 at the University of Washington in the overtime stanza the Washington Huskies (2-2) Cameron Williams and Jackson Sirmon got the Cal Bears (1-3) Damien Moore to fumble at the Huskies one yard line after a hard hit and the Huskies Ryan Bowman jumped on the loose ball for the recovery and what would save the Huskies from facing a second overtime as the Bears were just a yard away from tying up the game.

The officials called for a review to make sure that the fumble was legit and ruled that it was which was unfortunate for the Bears as time and possession would run out for Cal.

The Huskies Seth Mcgrew scored his second touchdown of the game at the beginning of the overtime to give the Huskies a seven point lead and eventual win 31-24. This was the first meeting between the two schools since 2019. Last season the game was cancelled during the Covid 19 crisis. If Cal had won it Saturday it would have been their third straight win in 100 meetings with Washington.

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers in the post game interview said that Moore would like to have that fumble back as Moore was pretty down after the game about coughing up the ball, “Obviously Damien wants that one back. We all do,” said Garbers “Stuff happens in football, you get unlucky sometimes, but we’re a really close group in the locker room so we’re all there for each other.”

Garbers himself had a relatively good game under center throwing for 319 yards 30-41 for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Garbers was picked off twice by the Huskies Kyler Gordon one of the picks happened early in the fourth quarter and the Huskies couldn’t score and Garbers later was able to run a seven yard touchdown with at 2:51 which tied up the game.

The Bears return to UC Berkeley for a Sat Oct 2 meeting at Memorial Stadium with the Washington State Cougars for a 2pm PDT kickoff. The Cougars (1-3) lost in their last game Saturday to the Utah Utes (2-2) 24-13. The Utes scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Cougars defense broke down at Utah.

Cardinal hold off late UW rally, beats Huskies 31-26

Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) throws against the Washington Husky defense at Husky Stadium in Seattle in the first half on Sat Dec 5, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Saturday, December 5, 2020

Stanford held off a late Washington surge Saturday and defeated the Huskies 31-26 in Pac-12 football at Husky Stadium in Seattle, using a dominant ground game to do it.

Austin Jones led the Cardinal charge with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Nathaniel Peat added 44 yards and a TD on seven attempts.

Quarterback David Mills threw for 252 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, completing 20 of 30 passes.

The Cardinal spent most of the week in Seattle after a Santa Clara County health order prohibited games and practices for contact sports on Monday. Stanford practiced at Washington’s indoor facility and at local high schools through the week, and held its Friday walkthrough at a public park.

Stanford (2-2) got off to a fast start, finding the end zone on its first three possessions. Jeff Toner’s 42-yard field goal put the Cardinal up 24-3 at halftime.

Washington (3-1) nearly duplicated its second-half comeback of last week against Utah. Sean McGrew scored from 6 yards out and quarterback Dylan Morris snuck over from the 1 pulling the Huskies to within 31-16. In between, Mills connected with Scooter Harrington on a 3-yard TD pass.

McGrew scored on a 2-yard run at 11:49 of the fourth quarter. The Huskies nearly had a fourth TD after recovering a Jones fumble at the Stanford 10-yard line. But two holding penalties moved UW back enough for the Huskies to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Peyton Henry.

The Cardinal was able to preserve a 31-26 lead by running out the clock with a drive that started at their own 12 with 7:47 remaining. A key catch on 4th-and-11 by Simi Fehoko and three first-down runs by Jones helped Stanford maintain possession.

Morris completed 15 of 23 passes for 254 yards, with no touchowns or interceptions. McGrew was the Huskies’ top ground gainer with 65 yards on 16 carries.

Next week, the Cardinal travel to Corvallis, Ore., to face Oregon State, a game originally slated to be played at The Farm.

Stanford Cardinal Football podcast with Jerry Feitelberg: UCLA comes calling tonight at Stanford Stadium on Pac-12 Thursday Night Football

Photo credit:

On the Stanford Football podcast with Jerry Feitelberg:

#1  Despite losing 10 key contributors from its two-deep depth chart and having five players out of the lineup, Stanford Cardinal (3-3) head coach David Shaw has taken his team and developed them into winning ways such as the way they were able to defeat the Washington Huskies (4-2), 23-13.

#2 Jerry talks about Stanford quarterback David Mills, who went 21-30 for 293 yards, and one touchdown.

#3 There was very doubt that coach Shaw and the Cardinal, who were 16.5 points underdogs against the Washington Huskies in the October 5th game, could pull this one off, but the defense was certainly key as the Cardinal won by ten points.

#4 Stanford head coach David Shaw and UCLA head coach Chip Kelly will meet tonight at Stanford Stadium. It’ll be like old times and Shaw hopes to pull off another win at Stanford Stadium.

#5 How does Stanford quarterback David Mills stack up going against the Bruins defense and Chip Kelly’s game plan?

Jerry Feitelberg does the Cardinal podcasts each Thursday at

Cardinal use ferocious defensive attack for huge upset over No. 15 ranked Huskies 23-13

Photo from Stanford’s Simi Fehoko leaps in front of Washington’s Elijah Molden to catch a first-quarter pass. Fehoko had three receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.

by Marko Ukalovic

PALO ALTO–The Stanford Cardinal football team used a stifling defense and a balanced offensive attack to execute a huge upset over the number 15th ranked Washington Huskies 23-13 on Saturday evening at Stanford Stadium.

Stanford came into the game as a 16.5 point underdog. The victory is their second in a row after after a three-game losing streak.

Stanford (3-3, 1-2) received the opening kickoff and marched down the field led by junior quarterback David Mills, who was making his second start of the season after replacing K.J. Costello last week against Oregon State. Mills led an 11 play, 82 yard drive, that chewed off 5:09 off the clock, only to have it stall out at the Huskie two yard line. Kicker Jet Toner easily made a 20 yard chip shot to give the Cardinal an early 3-0 lead.

Washington (4-2, 1-2) junior quarterback Jacob Eason was supposed to have a breakout game against a Stanford defense that was giving up an average of almost 35 points a game in their previous four contests.

However, Stanford was able to put consistent pressure on Eason, forcing him out of the pocket which resulted in incompletions from errant throws. Even when Eason did have time to throw the ball. the Cardinal secondary were up to the task knocking balls away from the hands of Huskie receivers.

Down 7-6 five minutes into the second quarter, Mills connected on a 42 yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Simi Fehoko, who was wide open down the right sideline and glided in for the touchdown and a 13-7 lead that Stanford never reliquished.

Washington kicker Peyton Henry kicked a 25 yard field goal with 5:59 remaining in the second quarter to pull the Huskies to within 13-10 at halftime. That was as close as they would get to Stanford on the scoreboard.

Stanford controlled the time of posession by a six and half minute margin in the first half 18:36 to 11:24. They finished the game with a nearly two-to-one margin 39:01 to 20:59.

“So to always quote the great Chip Kelly”, said Stanford head coach David Shaw. “Time of possession means nothing unless you score touchdowns. Usually at the end of the game, time of possession means one thing to me: Means we have the lead and we’re running the ball well.”

In the opening drive of the second half, it looked like Washington was going to make a run as a big play from Eason to Aaron Fuller for 35 yards setup the Huskies inside the Stanford defensive zone. However the Cardinal made a huge stop on 4th and 2 from their own 13 yard line to take over on downs. It set the tone for the rest of the evening as the defense kept Washington big play offense from making any kind of an impact down the stretch.

The Cardinal offense controlled the game with a career rushing game from running back Cameron Scarlett. The fifth year senior ran for 92 of his 151 yards in the second half, including a four-yard touchdown with 6:02 remaining in the third quarter to give the Cardinal a two-score lead essentially putting the game out of reach for the Huskies.

“Just an outstanding game by Cameron Scarlett”, said Shaw. “Probably one of the biggest plays of the night was in pass protection and if you know the truth about that, was the biggest challenge we gave Cam this year was that he needs to be a great pass protector.”

Scarlett had never had a 100-yard rushing game in his career, with his previous best at 97 yards.

“Yeah I knew today was going to be the day”, said Scarlett when asked if he thought tonight was going to be the night he broke the 100-yard threshold. “I’ve been sick and tired of rushing for 90 yards, the 92, 97 I see that. One thing I wanted to get over a hundred for sure and wanted to do whatever I could to make sure the offense could move the ball and I did that.”

Eason finished the game 16-36 for 206 yards and one touchdown, his first in Pac-12 play this season, a 3 yarder to sophomore tight end Cade Otton. The lone bright spot for the Huskie’s offense was Fuller’s performance of nine catches for 171 yards.

“A quarterback like that, you let him sit back there, he’ll pick you apart”, said Shaw regarding Eason’s abilities. “Thankfully we made him move and throw the ball away a couple of times and made him tuck it a couple of times. We were able to rush the passer with some regularity.”

Mills, who left the game midway throug the fourth quarter with some discomfort, finished 21-30 for 293 yards and one touchdown. Fehoko finished the game with three catches for 91 yards.

GAME NOTES: Stanford was penalized 9 times for 70 yards. Washington was 4 for 34 yards.

3rd Down Conversions: Stanford 6/14 Washington 2/12 and never converted a third down in the second half (0-7).

The Huskies have lost six consecutive games at Stanford Stadium. Their last win in Palo Alto was back in 2007.

Stanford’s senior right guard Henry Hattis suffered a lower body injury with 6:20 left in the third quarter and had to be carted off the field. He did not return to the game.

Washington’s redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton, who led the team in rushing with 64 yards on 10 carries, was injured after a rushing play with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter.

The announced attendance was 33,225.

UP NEXT: The Cardinal have a bye next weekend and return back to action on Thursday 10/17 when they host UCLA in a Pac-12 matchup.

Cal allows to many big plays in 41-17 loss to Washington

By Morris Phillips

The Cal Bears ran 89 offensive plays, amassed nearly 500 yards in total offense and committed just three penalties and one turnover on Saturday night.

But the Bears were blown out, dropping a 41-17 decision to Washington and falling to 1-7 on the season, in which they lost each time by at least two touchdowns.

How’s that?

While the Bears continue to post respectable offensive numbers, their defense has been simply offensive, allowing 643 yards to the Huskies, including UW running back Bishop Sankey’s 241 yards rushing.

Sankey’s 59-yard touchdown run capped a lopsided first half that ended with Cal trailing 24-7.   The Bears fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter when their offense pushed the snooze button and went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions.

“Right now, we’re just not executing well enough on either side of the ball that we need to beat a good football team,” Coach Sonny Dykes said.  “Washington is a very good football team.  We just have to go back to work.”

The Bears continue to deal with numerous injuries and defections, especially in the back seven of their defense, where the team allowed numerous big plays on Saturday.  Besides Sankey’s big touchdown run before the half, the Bears allowed UW quarterback Keith Price and Jaydon Mickens to hook up on touchdown passes of 68 and 47 yards, the second of which put the Huskies up 31-7 two minutes into the second half.

Washington came into Saturday’s game off three straight losses to the Pac-12 elite and with numerous injury concerns of their own.  The team also paid tribute to long time coach, Don James, who passed away this week due to complications with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.  The emotion surrounding the loss of James appeared to propel the Huskies, especially in building their early lead.

Jared Goff got the start for Cal and completed 32 of 54 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown pass to Chris Harper. Goff played into the fourth quarter and third-stringer Austin Hinder finished up.   Goff put up decent numbers, but was sacked five times and couldn’t get the Bears in the end zone, especially critical after the Bears narrowed Washington’s lead to 10 early in the second quarter.

The Bears have dropped 11 straight games to FBS competition and haven’t beaten a Pac-12 opponent in over a year.  In addition, the Bears got bad news this week when reports surfaced regarding the team’s poor performance in the classroom.   While athletic director Sandy Barbour addressed the academic issues, taking the blame for the player’s deficiencies, Dykes had to answer for the team’s play on the field.

“We’re not about losing or moral victories, but our guys play hard.  We have really good kids with great character.  I’m proud of them from that standpoint.  We just have to get better,” Dykes said.

The Bears return to Berkeley next Saturday to face Arizona, who won 44-20 at Colorado on Saturday.