Cougars pull upset over Cal, get first Pac-12 win
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) – Jayden de Laura passed for three touchdowns, two to Calvin Jackson Jr. who made a spectacular one-handed grab near the corner of the end zone, and Washington State beat California 21-6 on Saturday.
Playing for the first time since suffering a leg injury against Southern California two weeks ago, de Laura matched his career best of 25 completions on 41 attempts for 219 yards with two interceptions to help the Cougars (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12) to their first win at Memorial Stadium since 2013.
”It felt fine to go out there,” de Laura said. ”I knew I had to bring some energy and do my part. I just gave the receivers and the running backs the ball and let them make plays.”
Jackson finished with six catches for 53 yards. De’Zhaun Stribling added an 8-yard score and Washington State’s defense had five sacks and held the Golden Bears (1-4, 0-2) to 273 yards of offense.
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and was limited to 152 yards passing, 44 of them coming on one play for the Golden Bears (1-4, 0-2).
”We didn’t really do much of anything all that well. That’s on me,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. ”My job is to prepare our team to be successful and I failed.”
It was the first meeting between the two teams since 2019. Last year’s game was canceled two hours before kickoff due to COVID-19 protocol issues within Cal’s program.
Jackson scored on a 22-yard catch in the first quarter before his jaw-dropping catch in the second quarter helped the Cougars go up 14-6. Jackson jumped and snagged the ball with his right hand then – with his body twisting – managed to tap his right foot in the end zone before going out. The play was initially ruled incomplete before being overturned by replay.
”When I saw the ball in the sky I said there’s no way I can get two hands on it,” Jackson said. ”Once I got one hand on it my next thing was getting my foot down. The reaction was crazy. I came to the sideline and I got beat up the whole way to the bench.”
It came not long after the Cougars appeared to stall out earlier in the drive. Cal’s Nick Alftin blocked Nick Haberer’s punt but Washington State’s Ron Stone Jr. scooped up the loose ball and scampered 12 yards for a first down.
”The key for us was just to get a win,” said Washington State coach Nick Rolovich, who raved about Jackson’s catch after being shown the video during his postgame press conference. ”’I’m sure it’s going to be on ESPN. It better be Top 10. That’s as good of a catch as you’re going to see.”
Cal’s lone score came in the first quarter on an 11-yard run by Christopher Brooks, who bulled through a pair of defenders into the end zone.
The Golden Bears got in the red zone again early in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs.
”These next two weeks we’re really going to find out who we are as a team, who we are as people,” Garbers said. ”They had our number, they did a great job and they just outplayed us. That happens.”
Washington State: De Laura showed signs of rust early but used the short passing game to get comfortable. Running back Deon McIntosh provided a spark for the ground game, too. The Cougars defense, though, repeatedly made stops in the running game and never let Garbers get comfortable in the pocket – a small step forward for Rolovich’s team.
California: The Bears played fairly well defensively but the offense couldn’t find a consistent rhythm. Garbers overthrew a few open receivers and spent much of his afternoon scrambling away from pressure. The good news is that Cal will get a few extra days to prepare for No. 3 Oregon. At this point the Bears need it.
Washington State: The Cougars host Oregon State
California: The Golden Bears play at No. 3 Oregon on Oct. 15. The Bears have lost their last six games at Autzen Stadium.