California beats UC Davis 34-13 in season opener
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Jack Plummer threw three touchdown passes in his debut for California and Craig Woodson returned an interception for a score to lead California to a 34-13 victory over UC Davis on Saturday.
The Golden Bears (1-0) shook off a rough start on offense with minus-1 yard in the first quarter to improve to 11-0 all-time against the Aggies (0-1).
“Getting out there on the field the first time, I’m sure there was a little bit of nerves going on,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “A good thing was, as we talked about on the sideline after the first quarter was over, it was like , ‘Guys, it probably couldn’t have gone too much worse. … We got that out of us and then settled down and moved the ball down the field.”
Plummer threw TD passes of 3 yards to Jeremiah Hunter and 8 yards Jaydn Ott in the second quarter, and a 14-yarder to Mavin Anderson in the fourth quarter of his first appearance since transferring from Purdue.
Plummer finished 23 for 35 for 268 yards.
“I think we just got into a little bit of rhythm, did a little tempo,” Plummer said. “I think once we started to kind of see ourselves move that kind of gave us a little confidence and got them on their heels a little bit.”
Woodson helped take control of the game when he intercepted Miles Hastings on the opening drive of the second half and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown that made it 24-7.
Hastings threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Davis in the first quarter Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. scored on a 60-yard run in the third quarter for the Aggies.
Hastings finished 32 for 50 for 242 yards with two interceptions.
“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being excellent,” coach Dan Hawkins said. “But we played hard. Guys battled. Thought we had a good camp. But it’s a tough road so we got to learn from it, flush it and move on.”
UC Davis: The Aggies were looking for their second win over a Power Five team since making the jump to Division I in 2004. They had a chance to build on a 7-0 lead lead after intercepting Plummer in the first quarter in Cal territory. But Trent Tompkins was stopped for a loss on fourth-and-1 from the 9 to thwart that chance. The Aggies were stopped again on a fourth-and-6 from the Cal 38 late in the second quarter.
California: The Bears figured to have some growing pains offensively after losing their leading passer, rusher and receiver from last season. Cal had 3 yards, three punts and one interception on its first four drives before Plummer found his groove.
Ott got the bulk of the running duties in his first college game and delivered with 104 yards on the ground, along with his TD catch.
“He’s an explosive guy,” Wilcox said. “We are excited to get him some touches. … We thought Jaydn getting on the perimeter might be tough for people to tackle them. I know it is for us.”
The Bears were held to minus-1 yard of offense in the first quarter, the fewest for an FBS team against an FCS team in at least eight seasons.
That turned around in the second quarter when Cal gained 206 yards and had three straight scoring drives to take a 17-7 halftime lead.
UC Davis: Visit South Dakota State on Saturday.
California: Host UNLV on Saturday.
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