Bears Fall To UCLA In Season-Opener
LOS ANGELES – Senior cornerback Camryn Bynum recorded his sixth career interception and Cal blocked a punt for the first time in five years, but the Golden Bears fell to UCLA, 34-10, in their 2020 season-opener on Sunday morning at the Rose Bowl.
Cal played UCLA on less than 48 hours notice after each team had its originally scheduled game Saturday postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests from its opponent. This came after the Bears had their previously scheduled season-opener against Washington on Nov. 7 also postponed.
Cal was set to visit Arizona State on Saturday night, but the game was called off Friday morning due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests from the Sun Devils. A few hours after that game was canceled, the Bears and Bruins were able to schedule Sunday morning's game.
"We are disappointed we didn't perform better," Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said. "I have to do a better job helping these guys prepare. I believe in our team. I know we're going to get better. All those guys are disappointed. I know I am that we didn't perform as well as we thought we could. I think we all could be better, and every single guy will tell you that."
Cal got off to a strong start Sunday, holding the Bruins' offense to three-and-out on the first possession of the game and then getting a blocked punt from redshirt freshman Craig Woodson. Linebacker Cameron Goode recovered the ball at the UCLA 17-yard line. It was the Bears' first blocked punt since Hamilton Anoa'I pulled it off at Oregon in 2015.
Cal moved the ball to the Bruins' 3 before settling for a 31-yard field goal by Dario Longhetto – the first of his career.
The Bears came up with another big play on UCLA's next possession. On second down from the Bruins' 42, safety Daniel Scott tipped a pass by UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and it was intercepted by Bynum, who returned it 20 yards. Bynum now has 28 career passes defended, which is fifth on Cal's all-time list.
The Bruins scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to take a 14-3 lead, but the Bears answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Chase Garbers. It marked the fourth game in a row in which Garbers has scored a rushing touchdown.
UCLA was able to score two more touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 27-10 at halftime.
Scott led the Bears with 11 tackles. Safety Elijah Hicks had two pass break-ups.
Cal continues the 2020 season Saturday when it travels to Oregon State for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will air on Fox Sports 1.
"It's so easy to drop every excuse in the book right now," Cal center Michael Saffell said. "But I've always been proud of this group coming back, blocking out the noise and getting back for another week. We have another tough opponent against Oregon State coming up. Of course, 2020 is a weird year, but it was no excuse for how we played today."