It didn’t come easy, but Cal Football equaled their win total from last year, as they defeated Northwestern 31-24 in the season opener.
Cal dropped their season opener against Northwestern last year in Berkley, and the two teams re-matched in Evanston, Ill. to open this season. Last year’s opener for Cal was a 44-30 loss, which led to a disastrous 1-11 season. Cal also suffered a tough offseason, which included the tragic loss of Ted Agu, who died after a team workout on Feb. 7.
It looked to be an easy day for Cal, who jumped on Northwestern early. They scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. The first touchdown came after a long drive, in which they scored on fourth down after Jared Goff’s pass to wide receiver Bryce Treggs. James Langford kicked a field goal to make it 17-10 in the second quarter. Then a brief scare came, when Northwestern scored a touchdown to make it 17-7, but Cal responded right away with another touchdown to loosen the tension.
Another scare came when Treggs left the game after he was tackled towards the end of the second quarter. It took him awhile to get up, but he eventually walked off the field with his own power, and he returned for the Bears’ drive in the third quarter, which made the score 31-7. However, when it looked like Cal was going to cruise to an easy win, Northwestern started to make a run.
Justin Jackson ran in for a touchdown, and Jayme Taylor passed to Trevor Siemian for another, and Northwestern was right back in it at 31-21. Jack Mitchell kicked a field goal, and Northwestern got the ball into Cal’s territory, but Jalen Jefferson saved the day for Cal, when he intercepted Siemian’s pass at the Bears’ 15-yard line.
Cal ran for two first downs in the final minute and 38 seconds of the game, which featured all three timeouts being executed by Northwestern. However, after the final timeout, Cal successfully ran down the clock, and they held on.
This was Cal’s first win in their season opener since 2011. They are 1-0, and they will have a good shot at a 2-0 start, when they take on Sacramento State next Saturday. It will be Cal’s first game against Sacramento State since Sept. 3, 2005 when Cal devoured them 41-3.