Sights from the Field: California Golden Bears Edition

Washington State remains in the PAC-12 North driver's seat following Saturday's unorthodox 19-13 victory over Cal.

In a game that pitted strength vs strength, the No. 10/8 Washington State Cougars (8-1, 5-1) offense did just enough to escape Martin Stadium with a win over PAC-12 North opponent California (5-4, 2-4).  CSN photographer Jack Ellis was back on the field capturing the game’s biggest moments and plays.

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Washington State extended their home winning streak to 12 games dating back to the 2016 Apple Cup.  The streak is currently the longest in the PAC-12 with Arizona (11/17) and Washington (11/23) left on the 2018 home slate.

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Wide Receivers Jamire Calvin (6) and Calvin Jackson Jr. (85) prepare to take on the top pass defense in the conference.  Coming into the matchup, California only allowed 165 passing yards per game ranking No. 10 in the nation.

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Wide receiver Dezmon Patmon lines up against California cornerback Josh Draydon on the first snap of the game.  Patmon leads the Cougs on the season with 621 receiving yards adding 3 TD’s on 44 receptions. He is quickly becoming a favorite target for quarterback Gardner Minshew II.  Remember the name Josh Draydon, he may be relevant later on…

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The Cougar defense did an exceptional job of preventing explosive plays allowing only one snap from scrimmage to go over 25 yards. Seen above, Defensive Lineman Nick Begg (89) shows some emotion after a California pass falls incomplete leading to one of four Golden Bear punts.

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Quarterback Gardner Minshew continued his Heisman chase Saturday night completing his ninth straight 300-yard game (334 passing, 12 rushing).  Minshew only had one touchdown pass on the night, but several key completions led the Cougs to their fifth straight win.

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Calvin “Last Chance U” Jackson Jr. (left), Renard Bell (Middle), and Kyle Sweet (Right) line up early in the second quarter.  WSU outgained California 239-117 in the first 30 minutes but only led by a field goal heading into halftime.

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Running Back James Williams had the most receptions of any WSU player in the game with 10, accumulating 59 yards through the air.  Williams also led the Cougar rushing attack averaging 6.8 yards per carry on 5 handoffs.

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Halfback Max Borghi continues to shine in his rookie campaign finding the end zone nine times – 6 by ground and 3 by air – in his first nine games donning the crimson and gray.  Borghi had 66 yards from scrimmage on the night and the games solo rushing touchdown.

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Cornerback Marcus Strong (4) celebrates his first sack of the season, setting up a 3rd and 15 and an eventual punt by the Golden Bears.  Strong had six tackles in the game (five solo) – a career high for the junior from Rialto, CA.


Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys emphasizes holding opponents to under 30% on third down conversions.  California went 4-14 (28.57%) on the night which was crucial in forcing punts and keeping the offense out of the end zone.

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Kicker Blake Mazza had an up-and-down night, making his first two field goal attempts, but missing the potential game winner wide right late in the fourth quarter.  Mazza was assisted off the field after an extra point attempt went awry in the games final minute.

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Redshirt freshman Willie Taylor III recorded his first start of the season and made an immediate impact by picking off California QB Chase Garbers in the third quarter.  Taylor III unfortunately fumbled the ball out of the end zone on the runback resulting in a touchback for the Golden Bears. Regardless, it was encouraging to see the young man step up and make a big play in a close game.

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WSU’s defense continues to wreak havoc for opposing quarterbacks as the Cougs recorded five sacks on the night.  Logan Tago (45) led the team with two sacks – his first (and second!) of the season.  WSU leads the PAC-12 and ranking No. 14 in the nation with 27 sacks through nine games.

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Safety Skyler Thomas recorded the first interception of his career which could not have come at a better time.  Before the turnover, the game was tied 13-13 in the fourth quarter with California confidently moving down the field on a six minute, 14-play drive.  Had the Bears scored on this drive, the contests closing minutes would have been an uphill battle for the Cougars.

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Last night’s result was a fan’s dream but a gambler’s nightmare; the Cougs failed to cover the spread for the first time this season opening at 10.5-point favorites and sliding to 7.5 by kickoff. WSU is 8-1 against the spread in 2018, tied for best in the nation.

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Wide receiver Jamire Calvin indicating a first down as his catch puts the Cougs within striking distance with 1:20 left to play in the game.  It was Calvin’s only catch of the game, but arguably one of the most important on a night where California’s corners largely kept the Air Raid in check.

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Wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. now has two game winning touchdowns in Martin Stadium, this week coming at the expense of California Cornerback Josh Draydon (Remember him?). Winston led the receiving corps with seven receptions for 92 yards.

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After last night’s win, the Cougs maintain the best record in the conference and control their destiny in the PAC-12 North. With Washington beating Stanford 27-23 on Montlake, the North title will likely come down to the Apple Cup for the third straight year.


Want more content? Check out my previous posts!

Sights from the Field: Oregon State Beavers Edition

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