Cal Football: Mistakes Doom Golden Bears in 10-14 Loss to Auburn Tigers
California head coach Justin Wilcox loses his perfect record against SEC teams
Before its match-up against Auburn, the first in both programs’ history, California boasted an undefeated record against SEC teams for 16 years, stretching back to a 45-31 victory against the Tennessee Volunteers in 2007. Until this weekend, Justin Wilcox had a perfect record against the SEC as California’s head coach, beating Ole Miss in 2017 and 2019.
“We lost,” Coach Wilcox told reporters in the post-game press conference. “We lost the game. We did some good things in the game; I’m not denying that. There [are] some individuals and units that did some very good things... but this is a team game, and it’s about winning, and we didn’t get the job done.”
The Golden Bears’ star running back Jaydn Ott scored California’s only touchdown, a 14-yard rush to bring the home team up 10-7 in the second quarter. Ott had a game-high 78 rushing yards but did not play in the final quarter because of an injury.
California’s defense kept the game a low-scoring affair, and the Golden Bears’ special-teams play ensured the game would stay that way.
The Golden Bears forced four turnovers, including a forced fumble, only 1 minute and 27 seconds into the game. California linebacker Kaleb Elarms-Orr, who led all players with 13 tackles on the evening, knocked the ball out of Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne’s hands before he went out of bounds.
Thorne was limited to only 94 passing yards and nine completed passes out of 14 attempts, including one interception, although the Tiger also put up two passing touchdowns.
Unfortunately for many of the 44,141 fans in attendance for the 100th anniversary of California Memorial Stadium, the Golden Bears could not convert the turnovers into enough points.
California’s special-teams play further doomed the home team. The Golden Bears missed three field goals and had three points taken off the scoreboard after a holding penalty negated a made 51-yard kick only two seconds before halftime.
“There’s not a lot of silver lining, you know,” Coach Wilcox said bluntly. “It’s about winning, and we had plenty of chances, and we didn’t get it done. And nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
The pivotal drive for California came at four minutes remaining in the game. On the Auburn 41, quarterback Sam Jackson V connected with redshirt first-year Trond Grizzell on a short pass to the right for 11 yards. An Auburn unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on 15 yards for the Golden Bears, setting up a 1st and 10 on the Auburn 15. Unfortunately, a holding penalty by offensive lineman T.J. Session made matters worse for Coach Wilcox’s side. On a 4th and 13 on the Auburn 18, Jackson V threw a pick in the end zone, sealing California’s fate.
Jackson V went 14-for-27, including two interceptions thrown, and passed for 126 yards. The Golden Bear play-caller helped his team outgain their foes 273 yards to 230 but scored on only one of four trips to the red zone.
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