November 25, 2018 / 3:55 AM / 19 days ago

Early TDs by Cal defense carries Golden Bears past Colorado

Elijah Hicks and Ashtyn Davis each returned interceptions for touchdowns in the opening two minutes to jumpstart California to a 33-21 victory over visiting Colorado on Saturday in Pac-12 play at Berkeley, Calif.

Hicks, a sophomore cornerback, jumped an out route to intercept Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez on the third offensive play of the game and returned it 34 yards for a score just 71 seconds into the game. Three offensive plays later, Davis, a junior safety, grabbed a poor throw into coverage and navigated 35 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 13:04 left in the quarter.

The two plays set the tone for a miscue-filled performance in which Colorado (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12) committed five turnovers while dropping its seventh straight game. Quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper served as interim coach after the firing of Mike MacIntyre last Sunday.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Garbers threw two touchdown passes for the Golden Bears (7-4, 4-4), who have won four of their last five games. Junior inside linebacker Evan Weaver posted a career-high 19 tackles.

Montez, a junior, recovered from a three-interception first half to throw two touchdown passes in third quarter to pull the Buffaloes within 27-21.

Montez connected with sophomore wideout K.D. Nixon on a 24-yard scoring play with 10:15 left in the third quarter to pull Colorado within 24-14. After Cal junior Greg Thomas kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:56 remaining in the third, Montez guided a 10-play, 79-yard drive that was capped by his 3-yard scoring toss to senior receiver Juwann Winfree with 41 seconds left in the stanza.

The Golden Bears answered to take a 12-point advantage as Garbers tossed a 7-yard scoring pass to senior receiver Moe Ways. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful.

The Golden Bears had only three first downs while taking a 24-7 halftime lead. Colorado committed all five of its miscues (three interceptions, two fumbles) in the first 30 minutes.

After the interception returns by Hicks and Davis, Cal took advantage of a short field after Buffaloes sophomore Ronnie Blackmon fumbled a punt. Golden Bears junior Traveon Beck forced the fumble and senior Quentin Tartabull recovered at the Colorado 29-yard line.

Eight plays later, Garbers tossed a 1-yard scoring pass to senior running back Patrick Laird on a fourth-down play to increase the lead to 21-0 with 4:41 left in the first.

The Buffaloes got on the board when senior tailback Kyle Evans scored from the 1 with 11:32 left in the half. Thomas kicked a 24-yard field goal with 8:14 remaining to give Cal a 17-point lead.

—Field Level Media

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