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Saturday marked the second meeting between Cal and Northwestern. The last time these teams met was in the 1949 Rose Bowl. Northwestern came out victorious that game and Cal had revenge on their mind for their home opener.
Collin Ellis returned two interceptions for touchdowns to seal the deal for No. 22 Northwestern to spoil Sonny Dykes debut as Cal’s new head coach with a 44 – 30 victory. Ellis returned the first interception for 56 yards in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 27-24 lead. He then returned his second interception for 40 yards that gave Northwestern a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The interceptions, three total, were some of the mistakes made by Jared Goff, who became the first true freshman ever to start the season opener for the Golden Bears. Goff went 38 for 63 for 445 yards and two touchdowns.
The win came at a cost for Northwestern. They lost starting quarterback Kain Colter to a concussion after their second play from scrimmage. A number of other Wildcat players went down with minor injuries. The injuries affected the rhythm of Cal’s offense. Dykes felt that, “Every time we’d make a first down, they had a injury…it was disappointing that I saw that but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Trevor Siemian went 18 for 29 for 276 yards and a touchhdown when Colter went out. Treyvon Green ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Cal linebacker Chris McCain was ejected from the game after officials ruled a helmet-to-helmet contact on Siemian. On the following play, Siemian hit Dan Vitale on a 53-yard pass to set up Jeff Budzien’s third field goal of the game to give Northwestern the lead.
On the next drive, Goff’s short pass went of Darius Powe’s hands and right to Ellis who raced in to make it 37-27.
Cal lead early in the third quarter when Goff threw two TD passes to Chris Harper in a 47-second span that included a fumbled kickoff return by Stephen Buckley in between the two touchdowns.
Cal took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards for a touchdown. The drive ended with a fake field goal attempt. Holder Jackson Bouza flipped the ball back to kicker Vincenzo D’Amato, who passed it back to Bouza fo a 10-yard touchdown.
The rest of the first half didn’t go well for the Bears. Northwestern scored 17 unanswered points behind backup QB Trevor Siemian.
Cal was able to cut the lead to 17-10 at the half when Goff executed a 10-play 84-yard drive that led to a field goal by D’Amato.