California running back Justin Forsett rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns as his Golden Bears defeated Arizona 45-27 Saturday.
Arizona put up a fight and quarterback Willie Tuitama set a new school record for pass completions and attempts, completing 42 of 61 passes for 309 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Wildcats defense got off to a good start, forcing a three-and-out on the first drive of the game, and Arizona followed suit on offense, getting nothing.
A shanked Keenyn Crier punt gave Cal excellent field position and was the start of the problems for Arizona.
The Golden Bears marched down the field quickly and Forsett capped things off by taking a direct snap into the end zone at the 11:47 mark in the first quarter after three Wildcats missed tackles.
The UA got things going on its next drive as well but stalled in the red zone, forcing a Jason Bondzio field goal with 10:33 left in the quarter.
On Cal's next drive, the Arizona defense started having problems and on the first play of the drive a blown coverage allowed tight end Cameron Morrah to spring free for a 19-yard reception. Lavelle Hawkins got open in the end zone for a touchdown with 3:47 remaining in the quarter.
The problems continued for the Wildcats and after a penalty-ridden second drive, Cal got the ball back and more penalties gave Jahvid Best the opportunity to scamper in for another Golden Bears touchdown.
The next Wildcat drive was curtailed when Tuitama took a big hit and fumbled the ball into the end zone where it was recovered by defender Tyson Alualu.
Arizona managed to get into the end zone on its next possession when freshman running back Nicolas Grigsby barreled his way through the line.
Cal turned the interception into a decent drive, which stalled just before the red zone and was capped off by a missed 38-yard field goal by Jordan Kay.
Arizona had a little bit of success running the ball on the ensuing possession and put together a good drive but a failed fourth-down conversion resulting from a bad snap ended hopes of a score.
More struggles with coverage by the UA just before halftime gave Cal opportunities to move quickly downfield and Kay made a 42-yard field goal attempt with 36 seconds left to give his team 31 first-half points.
Senior Thomas DeCoud intercepted a Tuitama pass to end the half, the second of the game for Tuitama.
On the first play of the second half, another Arizona penalty, this time by Peter Graniello, negated what would have been a touchdown reception by receiver Mike Thomas. Senior running back Chris Jennings fumbled the ball soon after on his only carry of the game, ending the drive.
Cal marched right back downfield and running back James Montgomery secured a four-touchdown lead by punching the ball into the end zone from three yards out.
Despite the turnovers, the Wildcats offense continued to move the ball well and after a nice run by Grigsby, Tuitama forced the ball past the goal line on a keeper play.
Arizona's defense improved as the second half wore on, stopping Cal a couple of times. The offense responded again with a 14-play drive capped off with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tuitama to Thomas on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With Cal deep in its own territory, senior Louis Holmes forced a Montgomery fumble which was subsequently recovered on the Cal 21, setting up Bondzio for a successful 32-yard field goal.
Right after, the Golden Bears rode Forsett and Montgomery for eight plays and 74 yards before Forsett scored once again from a couple yards out on another direct snap with 8:53 left to play.
The penalties began to pile up for Cal in the second half and they helped keep the Wildcats offense on the field for long periods of time.
Another failed fourth down conversion with 3:43 left in the game ultimately sealed the fate of the Wildcats.
Passing numbers were again solid against Cal at 309, but 21 total rushing yards will not cut it and neither will eight penalties for 73 yards.
Thomas had a nice game, catching 12 balls for 105 yards, and Terrell Turner and Anthony Johnson both had six receptions. Grigsby was the leading rusher with 42 yards on 13 carries.
Arizona had problems defensively and not only was the defense not able to stop the run, but it was inadequate against the pass as well as Cal consistently found open receivers in the middle of the zone.
The fact that the two starting safeties, senior Dominic Patrick and sophomore Cam Nelson, led the defense in tackles with nine each is evidence that not much was getting stopped up front.
Arizona will have to pick things up defensively and stop making critical mistakes offensively if it wants to compete in the Pac-10 this year.
Arizona is back in Tucson on Saturday to take on Washington State at 7:00 pm MST.