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Cal-Nevada Football Season-Opening In-Game Thread: Offense Falters in 22-17 Defeat

Golden Bears and Wolf Pack met at Memorial Stadium in first game with fans since 2019.

Cal played at Memorial Stadium tonight for the first time with fans in the facility in 658 days but the outcome wasn't what the crowd of 35,117 wanted.

Nevada overcame a 14-0 first-quarter hole and rode 312 passing yards and two touchdowns from Carson Strong to a 22-17 victory.

Cal managed just three points over the final three quarters.

The Wolf Pack, favored to win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference, have beaten Cal three straight times, dating back to 2010.

The Bears staggered to a 1-3 record last year in a season that initially was canceled by the Pac-12, then whittled down to a conference-only schedule. Even then, Cal had two games scratched due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cal was 9-0 in regular-season non-conference games under coach Justin Wilcox.

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THIRD QUARTER

12:00: Strong shows off his arm again with a 46-yard pass down the right sidelines to Tory Hunter on a third-and-9 play, giving Nevada a first down at the Cal 16. On the next play, Strong hit Elijah Cooks with a slant over the middle for a 16-yard TD and the lead. Nevada attempted a 2-point pass play, which failed. But the tide has definitely turned. Nevada 19, Cal 14. 

6:26: Talton kicks a 50-yard field goal after Cal declines a holding penalty that would have sent Nevada back to a third-and-33 from the Bears' 47-yard line. Curious decision. The Bears have 35 yards of offense since the first quarter. Nevada 22, Cal 14.

1:09: Cal dodges a bullet as FG kicker Talton finally misses . . . from 47 yards. Nevada 22. Cal 14.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: Garbers completes a 24-yard pass to Kekoa Crawford, who makes an acrobatic catch and gives Cal a first down at the Nevada 29 when the fourth quarter starts. Nevada 22, Cal 14. 

FOURTH QUARTER

12:59: Longhetto kicks a 24-yard field goal after the Bears had a first down at the 13-yard line and couldn't cash it in for seven points, Marcel Dancy and DeCarlos Brooks had 8-yard runs to get the Bears to the 13, but Garbers threw incomplete to Remigio on third-and-3 from the 6. Nevada 22, Cal 17.

11:45: Sophomore safety Miles Williams intercepts Strong at the Cal 1-yard line and the Bears take over. Strong was intercepted on just 4 of his 355 pass attempts a year ago. Nevada 22, Cal 17.

7:11: Cal marches all the way from its 1 to the Nevada 11 with a first down there, but winds up attempting -- and missing -- a 40-yard field goal after Garbers was sacked on third down. Nevada 22, Cal 17.

4:29: Cal's defense forces a punt but Garbers is intercepted on first down. Nevada 22, Cal 17.

FINAL SCORE: Nevada 22, Cal 17.

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PREGAME: No Cal injuries to report - everyone is up. 

COIN FLIP: Nevada wins the coin clip and defers to the second half. Cal will receive the opening kickoff.

FIRST QUARTER

5:47: Damien Moore scores on a 1-yard run, capping a 15-play, 63-yard drive. Moore Moore carried nine times for 32 yards and Chase Garbers was 6-for-7 for 29 yards. Dario Longhetto converts the PAT. Cal 7, Nevada 0.

4:11: Cal starts at its own 28 after forcing Nevada to punt after a three-and-out.

0:03: Garbers passes 2 yards to Nikko Remigio for the TD and Longhetto converts the PAT. Cal went 72 yards in nine plays. The Bears have 135 yards to 6 for Nevada and have run 24 plays to 3 for the visitors. Moore has nine rushes for 49 yards. Garbers is 8-for-11 for 59 yards and the TD. Cal 14, Nevada 0.

SECOND QUARTER

10:50: Nevada gets on the board with a 44-yard field goal by Brandon Talton. That caps a nine-play, 56-yard drive that began at the Nevada 18. Evan Tattersall sacked Carson Strong and Collin Gamble broke up a third-down pass, forcing the field goal. Cal 14 Nevada 3.

8:12: A holding penalty and a sack derail Cal's third offensive possession. The Bears punt and Nevada takes over at its own 32. The Bears' defense has to make sure momentum doesn't change sides right now. Cal 14, Nevada 3.

6:15: This is the combination we've heard about all week - Strong throws a rope for 43 yards into the end zone to WR Romeo Doubs, who beat Collin Gamble, and Nevada has closed the gap. Doubs has 4 receptions for 68 yards. Cal 14, Nevada 10.

4:11: Three-and-out for Cal. Nevada starts at its own 22 after a 49-yard punt by Jamieson Sheahan. The Bears had 135 yards in the first quarter. They have 15 so far in the second quarter. Cal 14, Nevada 10.

1:57: Cal defense forces a punt, which Nikko Remigio returns 18 yards to the Bears' 33. Two-minute drill coming up. Bears have 2 timeouts. Cal 14, Nevada 10.

0:02: Talton kicks a 35-yard FG to get the Wolf Pack within a point. Cal went three-and-out on its previous possession and had to punt. Doubs returned is 38 yards to the Cal 41 and Strong moved his team to the 18 before the Bears forced back-to-back incompletions, prompting the field goal. Cal 14, Nevada 13.

HALFTIME: Cal 14, Nevada 13. Just as the Bears dominated the first quarter, the second quarter belonged to the Wolf Pack. The contrast is vivid: Cal outgunned Nevada 135 yards to 6 in the first quarter. Nevada had a 142-23 advantage in the second. 

Garbers is 13-for-17 but for just 86 yards. Damien Moore has 50 yards on 11 carries, but his second quarter production is 2 carries, 1 yard. Strong is 10-for-18 for 120 yards and a TD. The man of the night is WWR Romeo Doubs (pronounced Dubs), who has 5 receptions for 67 yards and a TD and the 38-yard punt return that set up the late field goal.

Total yards: Cal 158, Nevada 148. First downs: 8-8. No turnovers.

Cover photo of Memorial Stadium from 2019

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo