The Washington Huskies who have played spoiler to the Bears several times in the past few seasons, walked away with one more victory on Friday night. The Huskies held off a decimated Cal team by a score of 21-13, handing the Bears their seventh loss and Coach Tedford's second losing season in three years.
Washington struck first in this one, as sophomore running back Bishop Sankey cut through the Cal defense to capitalize on an Isi Sofele fumble in the first quarter. The Bears seemed poised to respond thanks to some nice catches by Chris Harper, but Brendan Bigelow fumbled in the red zone to give the ball back.
Sankey and Harper were just two of the offensive standouts, as the two teams racked up 861 total yards despite the low scores. Sankey carried 22 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns, complemented by tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins' 154 yards on eight receptions. Harper, filling in as the primary target for the injured Keenan Allen, had seven catches for 101 yards, and added a 14-yard score on a double-reverse run. CJ Anderson saw the bulk of the carries for the Bears, and rushed for 160 yards of his own.
Neither team could turn those yards into points for much of the first half, trading punts before Harper found the end zone to cap a nearly five-minute drive for the Bears. The score came on a reverse from Sofele to Harper, and was set up by a nice block by freshman receiver Maurice Harris.
Keith Price, who struggled to find his accuracy at times, appeared to be in sync on the next drive, as he marched the Huskies down the field late in the first half. Nick Forbes managed to stop the drive by picking off Price in the end zone to preserve a 7-7 tie going into halftime.
The Bears' struggles with execution this year reappeared in the second half, starting with a botched lateral pass from Maynard to Bigelow that ultimately went for a loss of 21 yards. Bigelow would still manage 49 net yards on six carries, but the Bears couldn't close the drive despite a long breakaway by Anderson and a horse collar penalty on Washington's Shaq Thompson. Vincenzo D'Amato's field goal put the Bears up 10-7.
Aaron Tipoti forced Sankey to fumble on the ensuing possession, and Forbes scooped it up, setting up the bears for another field goal. The Huskies took the lead on the next possession, thanks to two impressive catches by tight end Sefarian-Jenkins, including a 29-yarder over Steve Williams for the score.
With the score 14-13 entering the fourth quarter, both teams showed evidence of the bad execution that has hindered them this year. D'Amato ended his streak of 11 consecutive field goals as his 41-yard attempt sailed wide. Price fumbled on a sack by Brennan Scarlett, one of Cal's three in the game, but a botched handoff between Maynard and Anderson gave the ball right back. Todd Barr forced another fumble, this one from Sefarian-Jenkins, which Nick Forbes fell on for his third turnover recovery of the night.
Just when it looked like the Bears might regain some momentum, Maynard's pass found the hands of Shaq Thompson, who took it the other way for 33 yards. That set up a quick scoring drive for the Huskies, culminating with a short touchdown by Sankey.
With four minutes left on the field and a 21-13 deficit, the Bears looked to score and force overtime. Those hopes took a hit when Maynard had his left knee crunched on a scramble before being carted off the field. Backup Allan Bridgford managed to drive the Bears down the field, but missed connections with his receivers sunk the drive as Bridgford couldn't find Anderson on fourth and five.
Unable to stop the Huskies from running out the clock, the Bears fell to 3-7, losing perhaps their best chance to find a win in the remainder of the season. With two games remaining against 8-0 Oregon and 6-1 Oregon State, the Bears figure to be the underdogs from here on out. With Maynard's status uncertain and Keenan Allen doubtful for next week, it will take big games from some of the younger Bears for them to have a chance against Oregon. That game will be played in Berkeley, but the start time has yet to be announced.