When the California Golden Bears took on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds on Saturday the game was to get the team on track before facing the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road. Yet, that didn’t happen because of penalties, turnovers and a lack of discipline and it wasn’t until the second half that the game got put away.
In the first quarter the offensive possessions resulted in a three and out, a drive that started out well nearly ended because of a late hit by an offensive linemen finally stalling after Keenan Allen caught a pass from Zach Maynard and missed the opportunity for a first down and more when his feet slipped.
As a result he didn’t pick up the first and faked spiking the ball before spiking it to the ground though he didn’t do it intentionally the ball did strike an official which drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The penalties didn’t stop from there on the very next offensive series a touchdown got negated because of a clipping penalty on Allen and even if that penalty hadn’t been accepted there also was a holding call too. On the next play Maynard had his pass intercepted by Thunderbirds linebacker Austin Gumucio.
At this point the game remained scoreless until a fumble by Allen gave the Thunderbirds great starting field position and resulted in Colton Cook making a 40-yard field goal.
Trailing 3-0 the offense awakened with Vince D’Amato tying the score up on an 18-yard field goal, C.J. Anderson scored on a five yard touchdown run, Isi Sofele got into the act with a 13 yard touchdown and D’Amato kicked a 25-yard field goal towards the end of the first half.
For the Thunderbirds the 20 consecutive points put up by the Bears didn’t take away from their confidence. With very little time remaining in the first half and one last desperate attempt towards the end zone on a hail marry the Thunderbirds received agifrt. Cornerback Steve Williams interfered with a receiver giving an extra 15 yards and a untimed play.
Needing every inch of those extra 15 yards Cameron Morgan made an incredible one-handed catch and after a review the play stood bringing the score at halftime to 20-10.
With the momentum the Thunderbirds scored the only points of the third quarter on their first possession. Henna Brown scored on a five yard touchdown pass to make the score 20-17.
A few series later that’s when the game got put away again for good. Allen started out by scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 19 yard pass from Maynard, cornerback Marc Anthony intercepted Brad Sorensen and returned the interception for a 60 yard touchdown, D’Amato kicked a 47-yard field goal, Allen returned a punt that he mishandled momentarily for a 71 yard touchdown.
The Thunderbirds trailing 44-17 got back on the scoreboard with an eight yard touchdown pass to Brian Wilson.
Coach Jeff Tedford put in the backups and on the first run play the ball went to freshman Daniel Lasco and he took it 77 yards for a touchdown. It was the first career touchdown and carry for Lasco. The ensuing extra point got missed to put the Bears up 50-24.
Fatu Moala capped the scoring on a seven yard pass for Sorensen.
Maynard finished the game completing 17 of 23 passes, throwing for 229 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Sofele had 19 carries for 104 yards and Harper had seven catches for 94 yards.
On defense J.P. Hurrell picked up three sacks and six tackles, Jalen Jefferson led the team in tackles with nine and Nick Forbes, Robert Mullins and Josh Hill added eight tackles. One concern is that linebacker Chris McCain left the game with an injury and did not return.