Recap: Northwestern vs. California
Evanston, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns as the California Golden Bears held on to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats, 31-24, in non-conference action at Ryan Field.
Goff converted 21-of-34 passing, was sacked twice and tossed an interception for the Golden Bears (1-0).
The Wildcats (0-1) were led by Trevor Siemian who hit on 23-of-43 for 229 yards and a score, but he was picked off two times in the losing cause.
Cal scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter as Goff registered scoring passes of one and seven yards to Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler, respectively.
Early in the second period the lead for the Bears rose to 17-0 as James Langford knocked through a 20-yard field goal.
The Wildcats finally got on the board at the 6:26 mark thanks to a 54-yard TD pass from Siemian to Cameron Dickerson.
Almost immediately the Bears countered with a 76-yard TD pass play between Goff and Trevor Davis, giving the visitors a 24-7 advantage at the break.
The third quarter saw the teams alternate touchdowns as Khalfani Muhammad reached the end zone on a one-yard run for Cal and Northwestern countered with a seven-yard TD run by Treyvon Green with 2:31 remaining in the frame.
Refusing to go away quietly, the Northwestern defense came alive as Collin Ellis intercepted Goff at the 24-yard line and returned it to the 17. The Wildcats then turned to a bit of trickery as Jayme Taylor then threw to Siemian who lunged to the right pylon for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 31-21 with just over two minutes to play in the third.
Northwestern closed the gap even more in the fourth, thanks to a 24-yard field goal by Jack Mitchell with 5:18 left in regulation.
Forcing a Cal punt, the Wildcats found themselves near midfield with 4:14 to play following a penalty. After throwing under the defense several times, Siemian was sacked, resulting in a 3rd-and-17. Siemian's next pass over the middle was tipped and intercepted by Jalen Jefferson at the 20-yard line.
After picking up a couple of first downs, California was able to run out the clock.
The victory for Cal not only snapped a 10-game losing streak, it was the team's first against another member of the Football Bowl Subdivision since the squad topped Washington State by a score of 31-17 in Pullman on Oct. 13, 2012.
The Bears are coming off a season in which they ranked 122nd in the country in both total defense (529.6 ypg) and points allowed (45.9 ppg), with the pass defense dead last in the FBS with 341.0 ypg surrendered.
Northwestern, which had won eight straight season openers under the direction of head coach Pat Fitzgerald, entered the game having won both of the previous meetings against the Golden Bears, including a 44-30 victory in the 2013 season opener.Game Notes