Barebones Cal Football Loses to Oregon State, Remains Winless

Golden Bears give up big plays to the Beavers

California outside linebacker Cameron Goode had seven tackles against Oregon State on Saturday. (Photo Courtesy: Cal Athletics via Al Sermeno / KLC fotos)

The California Golden Bears (0-2) remain winless after a smash-mouth 27-31 defeat to the Oregon State Beavers (1-2) in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday.

Both teams came to play seeking their first win of the season and avoiding a last-place standing in the Pac-12 North division. The two sides started their first drives by trading a pair of tit-for-tat touchdowns.

The game started with fireworks: Jermar Jefferson, the junior Oregon State running back, scored on his first touch with a 75-yard touchdown run in 18 seconds.

Not to be outdone, California starting quarterback Chase Garbers equalized with a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Makai Polk in the end zone that capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive.

The big plays did not stop after the opening drives.

Oregon State quarterback Tristan Gebbia completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Teagan Quitoriano and caught an eight-yard pass from his wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey on an innovative fourth-quarter trick play. The Beaver quarterback earned the receiving score after a toss to his running back and the reverse to Lindsey.

California lost the game with missteps on offense and special teams. It lost a 20-17 lead at halftime after being outplayed by the Oregon State defense in the third quarter, and a blocked punt with 5 minutes and 26 seconds left in the game gave the Beavers the ball at the California 14. Oregon State also benefited from big returns on kick-offs.

Garbers, who ended the afternoon 28-for-42 with 315 yards thrown, three touchdowns and two interceptions, gave up his second interception in the fourth quarter on a tipped ball. The pick, which the quarterback called the “worst-case scenario” after the game, ended the redshirt junior’s hope of leading a comeback victory.

To the Golden Bears’ credit, the game was much closer than expected.

California played without seven football players, more than half of them starters, against the Beavers Saturday, as it continues to battle through its struggles with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Just two hours before kick-off, the university announced an unnamed football player had tested positive for Covid-19 as a part of the regularly scheduled PCR testing.

As a result of subsequent contact tracing protocols, the Golden Bears lost three starters from the offensive line and starting running back Christopher Brown, Jr.

Brayden Rohme and Brandon Mello made their first career starts as Golden Bears on the offensive line.

Outside linebacker Braxten Croteau and tight end Collin Moore also did not play. Croteau was replaced by Orin Patu, who had his first start as a linebacker.

Despite the missing personnel, California played a competitive game. The Golden Bears outgained the Beavers 439 to 360 yards, out-earned first downs 24 to 16, and held onto the ball for nearly twice the amount of time.