(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BERKELEY, California – Two touchdowns each from Jordan Leslie and Mitchell Juergens led BYU to a 42-35 victory over Cal in Berkeley on Saturday.
“I’m so happy for our team–the few, we lucky few,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “We knew this was a really tough opponent, it was going to take at least 30 points to win, and it played out exactly as we planned it.”
Christian Stewart threw five touchdowns on 23 of 38 for 433 yards and one interception. BYU’s wide receivers came up big against Cal, as Juergens had two touchdowns and 107 yards (a career-high), and Leslie had 155 yards and two touchdowns. Paul Lasike led the running backs with one touchdown and 63 yards.
Up 42-35 after a 38-yard touchdown catch by Leslie, BYU played tough defense during Cal’s final drive. The Bears converted on fourth down with a 12-yard pass to Harper, but Robertson Daniel and Michael Davis both stopped potential touchdown passes to hold onto the lead and win the game 42-35.
Three Cougars recorded double-figure tackles, with Kai Nacua collecting a team-high 14 tackles. Skye PoVey recorded 11, and Harvey Jackson had a career-high 10.
With 11:49 left in the game, Stewart found Leslie for an 83-yard reception to go up 35-28. It was BYU's first lead since going ahead 14-7 in the first quarter, but Cal answered right back with a 23-yard reception by Trevor Davis to tie it back up at 35-all with 9:17 left.
Algernon Brown caught a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter with 9:12 left to tie the game again at 21-21. He powered through three defenders to make his way to the end zone. Stewart kept the drive alive by finding Terenn Houk for a 13-yard reception to convert on the third down.
With 8:25 left in the third quarter, PoVey intercepted Jared Goff and returned it 27 yards. Juergens had a 29-yard reception to get BYU within a yard of the end zone. Stewart fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line, which was recovered by Cal’s Stefan McClure for 22 yards. The Bears took advantage of the turnover with Tre Watson scoring a 9-yard rushing touchdown to go up 28-21 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
The Cougars bounced back and rushed the ball up the field for a touchdown. Lasike avoided four Cal defenders for a 28-yard reception, which put Stewart in position to find Juergens for a 9-yard touchdown reception to even the score at 28-28 with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
BYU scored on the first drive of the game. A couple of penalties against Cal kept the drive alive for BYU. Lasike powered over the Bears’ defense to score the first touchdown of the game and put the Cougars up 7-0 with 12:18 left in the first quarter.
Cal answered right back with a touchdown of its own in its first drive. Goff threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Lawler in the end zone to tie the game 7-7 with 7:37 left in the first quarter. Bryce Treggs caught two passes for a total of 20 yards in this drive.
Juergens caught his second touchdown pass of the season to put BYU up 14-7. He caught a 47-yard pass from Stewart with 1:04 in the first quarter. Brown kept the drive alive when the Cougars went for it on fourth down and he rushed for the first down. BYU was 3 for 3 on fourth downs.
The second quarter saw two touchdowns from Cal. Lawler caught two touchdown passes in the second quarter alone. The first was a 16-yard pass from Goff deep in the end zone with 13:44 left in the half to tie the game up at 14-14.
Stewart threw an interception to Caleb Coleman to set up the Bears’ second scoring drive of the quarter. BYU’s defense almost stopped the second touchdown after holding the running game for two downs, but Goff found Lawler to convert on third down and score to go up 21-14 with 7:29 left in the second quarter.
"The fans filled the whole section up there today," Mendenhall said. "We had authentic support, loyal support, heartfelt support, and the combination was just a magical experience."
The Cougars will participate in the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. EST.