Cal Football: Bears Can't Put the Game Away Against the No. 24 USC Trojans, Drop Upset Bid 49-50
California gave up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter
Halloween arrived early in Berkeley, Calif., this year.
The California Golden Bears’ (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) match-up against the No. 24 USC Trojans (7-3, 5-1 Pac-12) was anything but normal.
First, the game, the last between the two California teams as members of the Pac-12 Conference, was delayed by about 15 minutes after more than a dozen protestors climbed past stadium security after the coin flip to sit on the Cal logo at midfield.
The field invaders wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Justice 4 Ivonne,” a reference to University of California, Berkeley associate professor Ivonne del Valle. San Francisco Bay Area NPR affiliate KQED reported del Valle had been suspended from her post after university probes found she had harassed and stalked a professor from the University of California, Davis.
In another unusual turn of events, the Pac-12 Conference review team had California and USC play a second-quarter play after the teams had already left the field for halftime.
The conference’s replay officials found that the game’s on-field officials had prematurely called the end of the first half—one second too early.
In the dying embers of the second quarter, USC tight end Lake McRee completed a deep 29-yard pass to the California 16. The two teams then retreated to their locker rooms, but fans in California Memorial Stadium noticed some oddities. The scoreboards in Strawberry Canyon did not count backward as they typically do at halftime, nor did USC head coach Lincoln Riley immediately leave the field to join his team in the locker room. Instead, the visiting coach was busy in conversation with the referees.
The league said McRee was down with one second left, and the clock did not reach double-zeros during the play. As a result, USC attempted a 33-yard field goal, which was recorded as a second-quarter play, after halftime. After the failed kick, the Trojans kicked the ball to California to formally start the second half.
It was a second-half California fans wished their side could replay.
California quarterback Fernando Mendoza extended his team’s lead to 43-29 after a one-yard rushing touchdown to start the fourth quarter.
But the lead would not last. USC scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on fumbles by California, to lead the Golden Bears 50-43.
Then, with 1:04 remaining in the game, Mendoza found first-year running back Jaivian Thomas, who made his debut Saturday, for a 13-yard receiving touchdown to cut his team’s deficit to 49-50.
The Trojans defense then foiled Mendoza’s two-point conversion play in the end zone, ending California’s upset bid against a top-25 team at home.
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