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Never enough: Cal falls to UCLA in final game of the season

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NOVEMBER 29, 2022

There is a delicate line between optimism and delusion — a line Cal football fans are all too familiar with in this era of slow scoring, sloppy defense and good-but-never-good-enough.

Case in point: The Bears won their season opener in a resounding 34-13 victory over UC Davis. This was the first time Cal has done so since 2019, ushering in hopes for a winning season and prompting whispers that transfer quarterback Jack Plummer was the key to unlocking the team’s potential. Fast forward two months, and the statline speaks for itself: six back-to-back losses and an overtime defeat to the winless Colorado Buffaloes. A first half of optimism and a second half of delusion. This was a season of heartbreak, embarrassment and frustration, and heading into their final game of the season against UCLA, the Bears sought redemption.

They should’ve known it would be yet another almost

Cal was the embodiment of football excellence in the first half. Though Dorian Thompson-Robinson connected with wide receiver Jake Bobo for five yards and a touchdown to score the first points of the game, the Bears responded fervorously. The defense held UCLA to just 10 more points before halftime as Plummer found the endzone three times — twice to Jeremiah Hunter and once to J.Michael Sturdivant.

At the end of the first half, Cal led 21-17.

With a strong stand against the No. 18 ranked team in the nation, the Bears had one goal in the second half: consistency. UCLA’s Thompson-Robinson, however, had a different idea. The redshirt senior found the endzone once more in a 14-yard touchdown run during the beginning of the third quarter, giving the Bruins their second lead of the game. Though another Cal touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the Bears a 1-point advantage, just less than five minutes later, the Bruins put up 8 more points. 

Neither team would score again as Cal fell one touchdown short of UCLA, 28-35.

“We all just need to expect more from ourselves,” said head coach Justin Wilcox. “Coaches, players, our program, support staff, everybody — and be just a little bit better. We have to play a  little bit better more often.”

Despite ending the season with a measly 4-8, the Bears’ narrow loss margin against a nationally ranked team speaks to the amount of potential this young team has for the seasons to come. 

Perhaps with one more piece, Cal football will find deliverance.

Contact Cynthia Ge at 


NOVEMBER 29, 2022