There were no gifts on the field for birthday boy and BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum on Saturday as the Cougars failed to get past California at home, falling to the Golden Bears 21-18 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Bears snapped a five-game losing streak on the road and improved to 2-0 while BYU slipped to 1-1.
Cal drew first blood as redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Garbers, making his first career start, connected on a 25-yard scoring strike to senior running back Patrick Laird with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
BYU freshman kicker Skylar Southam got the Cougars on the board with a 36-yard field goal with 6:15 left in the second quarter, but BYU still trailed 7-3 at the end of the first half.
A more spirited third quarter had both sides trading touchdowns: Garbers’ pass to Kanawai Noa for 52 yards put Cal up 14-3 for less than two minutes before a fumble by RB Derrick Clark led to a BYU recovery and touchdown by Dayan Ghanwoloku to bring the score up to 14-10 at the end of the third.
Cal QB Brandon McIlwain, who came off the bench and notched 5 of 7 for 38 yards, emerged as the Bears’ rushing leader with 16 carries for 74 yards including one touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Garbers was 18-for-28 for 176 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Meanwhile Mangum, who was 22-of-41 for 196 yards, shook off his two interceptions on the evening and finished his night with 1-yard pass to Brayden El-Bakri for a touchdown with 0:51 to go and followed up with a two-point conversion pass to Micah Simon.
Cal had 398 yards offense compared to 287 for the Cougars, including a 184 to 91 advantage in rushing yards. Running back Squally Canada was tops for BYU with 16 carries and 49 yards.
Saturday marked Cal’s second visit to LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars won the first meeting in Provo in 1999, 38-28, and leads the series 3-2.
—Field Level Media