Garbers passes for 3 TDs in Cal’s 45-23 win over Idaho State
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California’s offense got off to a slow start and the defense struggled to finish for a third straight game. Three big plays by Ashtyn Davis in between helped tilt things in the Golden Bears’ favor.
Davis scored on an 89-yard kickoff return, made his second interception of the season to set up another score, then chased down a receiver from behind to prevent a touchdown as Cal overcame a sluggish start and beat FCS-level Idaho State 45-23 on Saturday.
“Ashtyn’s gotten better and better since he’s been playing a lot for us last year until now,” Bears coach Justin Wilcox said. “He plays fearless. He’s a talented athlete and getting better and better as a player. It’s nice to see him make those (plays).”
Chase Garbers completed 20 of 25 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns in his second game as Cal’s starting quarterback.
Marcel Dancy ran for 80 yards and scored his first career TD, while Jordan Duncan had a pair of touchdown catches as the Bears (3-0) rolled in their final game before a Pac-12 opener next week.
“We were bigger than they were and probably had more speed,” Wilcox said. “It’s going to get harder and harder as we move into Pac-12 play.”
Tanner Guellar passed for 179 yards and a touchdown, Mitch Guellar caught six passes for 156 yards and a score and Ty Flanagan had an 11-yard TD run for Idaho State. The Bengals (1-1) were 2 for 14 on third down.
“We couldn’t get any first downs unless we got a deep ball or a penalty,” Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said. “We lost. No moral victories. But we won the turnover battle against one of the best turnover teams in FBS.”
Cal managed only 37 yards on its first three possessions and didn’t get going until Davis’ interception off Guellar late in the first quarter. Dancy followed with a 5-yard touchdown run to cap a 40-yard drive.
Garbers found Duncan for a 28-yard touchdown on the Bears’ next possession after Duncan got past Idaho State cornerback Koby Lowe to make it 14-0.
Davis then turned the game in Cal’s favor for good.
Gueller connected with brother Mitch Guellar coming across the middle for a short gain but two Cal defenders ran into each other trying to make the tackle. As Mitch Guellar broke free and raced toward the end zone, Davis chased him down from behind and made the tackle at the 8 following a 63-yard gain.
“I was reading the quarterback’s eyes, I was the flat defender on that play, and I saw him loft it over me,” Davis said. “That made me a little upset. I just saw (Guellar) taking off and I thought I could catch him so I took off.”
After Cal’s defense held the Bengals to a field goal, Davis took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. It’s the Bears first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2014.
“Whenever he’s on the field he has the ability to do whatever he can and cause havoc for an offense,” Garbers said of Davis. “His interception and then to hawk the guy like that and prevent a touchdown was definitely a big momentum swing for us.”
Idaho State: Outside of the the Guellar brothers, who had a couple of nice plays, the gains were few and far between for the Bengals. They are now 1-27 against FBS teams.
California: The Bears made it through the first three weeks unscathed, but they’ll have to pick up the pace now that they face the Pac-12 portion of the schedule. Garbers looks more settled in but Brandon McIlwain provided a lift off the bench with his running. The defense also put more pressure on the quarterback, something Wilcox had been looking for.
Cal’s defense has not been scored upon in the first quarter this season. The Bears have only allowed two field goals in the first half of their three games.
Dancy had only one carry in Cal’s first three games but split time in the backfield with leading rusher Patrick Laird. Laird ran for 22 yards on 11 attempts. “He can be a tough guy to tackle because he’s built low to the ground,” Wilcox said. “It was nice to see him get in there and get some opportunities.”
Idaho State: Plays at North Dakota on Saturday.
California: Hosts No. 20 Oregon on Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25