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Cal Football: In-Game Thread -- Bears Top USC 24-14 for Second Win in Series in 17 Years

Defense delivers timely plays to hand Trojans their fourth straight defeat.

Cal ended a strange season on a high note with a strange 24-14 win over USC on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled to be played three weeks ago but was rescheduled after Cal's COVID outbreak.

The Bears (5-7, 4-5 Pac-12) were outgained 409 yards to 269 but two turnovers by the Trojans (4-8, 3-6) were decisive,

Cal avoided its worst record since going 1-11 in 2013.

USC finished with its first four-game losing streak since 2001 and its worst record since 1991. 

NEWS FROM THE TROJANS: Two key defensive players, outside linebacker Drake Jackson and cornerback Chris Steele, are not with the team. They are among nine players on the USC two-deep chart who did not travel with the team.

CAL PERSONNEL UPDATE: Starting linebacker Nate Rutchena is out tonight - no reason given. Trey Paster will start in his place

COIN FLIP: Cal wins the toss and defers. Will kick off to open the game, then get the ball in the third quarter.

FIRST QUARTER

2:12 1ST Q: Dario Longhetto kicks a 22-yard field goal after an offsides penalty vs. USC gives him a second chance. On the previous try, he hit the right upright on a 26-yarder. Cal went 62 yards in 14 plays including 5-for-6 for 52 yards by Chase Garbers. Cal 3. USC 0.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: USC has 65 total yards to 63 for Cal. The Trojans have a 5-4 edge in first downs. Cal has run the ball 8 times for 11 yards, the Trojans 9 times for 23 yards. Garbers is 5-for-6 for 52 yards passing. USC's Jaxson Dart is 4-for-6 for 42 yards. Cal 3 USC 0.

9:28 2nd Q: Jaxson Dart connects with Kyle Ford for a 45-yard touchdown play. Dart rolled to his right, barely eluding pressure from Cam Goode, and threw to Ford, who came down with the ball at the 31, along the right sideline. Isaiah Young missed breaking up the play and Ford pulled away from an attempted tackle by Elijah Hicks and scooted into the end zone. USC went 91 yards in 6 plays, aided by a pass interference flag against freshman Lu-Magia Hearns on the play before the touchdown play. USC 7, Cal 3. 

4:51 2nd Q: Christopher Brooks scores on a 1-yard run as Cal regains the lead. The Bears went 79 yards in 8 plays, including Garbers' 39-yard completion to tight end Jake Tonges. Garbers is 11-for-12 for 118 yards. Marcel Dancy kept the drive alive by spinning free of would-be tackler Chris Thompson and running 14 yards for a first down on a third-and-1 play. Cal 10, USC 7.

3:53 2nd Q: Biggest play of the game so far -- Darwin Barlow takes the handoff for USC and Hicks knocks the ball loose. LB Trey Paster scoops it up and races down the left sideline 55 yards for the touchdown. The Bears scored two TDs in a span of 58 seconds. Cal 17, USC 7.

HALFTIME: Cal 17, USC 7. The Trojans have 230 yards to 162 for Cal, but the one turnover was a difference-maker. Garbers is 11 for 12 for 118 yards. Dart of 11 for 18 for 144 yards and a touchdown. USC's Vavae Malepeai has 11 rushes for 71 yards. Christopher Brooks has 8 for 36 and a touchdown for Cal. The Bears get the ball first to start the third quarter.

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THIRD QUARTER

1:13 3rd Q: Cal defense holds on a strange fourth-and-2 play and the 3-yard line when the USC snap goes awry and tight end Erik Krommenhoek picks it up and is swarmed for no gain. USC had driven from its own 35-yard line. Freshman QB Miller Moss came in two plays earlier when starter Jaxson Dart, also a freshman, was leveled by Femi Oladejo and Josh Drayden on a scramble. Cal 17, USC 7.

FOURTH QUARTER

9:47 4th Q: This game keeps getting more and more weird. USC has a third-and-6 from the Cal 8 and Miller Moss drops to pass. He doesn't see Daniel Scott coming from his backside on a safety blitz and is flattened by Scott. But Scott doesn't notice that the ball has come loose and it's just sitting on the ground. Finally, freshman CB Lu-Magia Hearns scoops it up at the 32-yard line. Cal 17, USC 7.

5:37 4th Q: Brooks scores on a 2-yard run, capping a 68-yard drive that followed the turnover. Garbers had a 24-yard completion to Trevon Clark and ran 19 yards on a keeper during the drive. Cal 24, USC 7.

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Here’s some pregame reading you might have missed:

— Our Cal-USC game preview

— Lots of emotions before a player's final college game. Can they be harnessed?

— A USC beat writers answers our 5 Questions about the Trojans

— Chase Garbers has a big decision coming

Pro Football Focus honors a couple Cal players

— Cal's defense would get a boost from the return of these two guys 

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Cover photo of Cal running back Christopher Brooks by Neville E. Guard, USA Today

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