Nov. 5, 2011
By Jonathan Okanes
SAN FRANCISCO - Will Kapp may have scored his first career touchdown on the longest run of his career Saturday night, but he left some unfinished business on the AT&T Park field during Cal's 30-7 victory over Washington State.
Exhausted after a 43-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, Kapp was back on the field minutes later on the Bears' kickoff team and nearly made the tackle on the Cougars' return.
"I wanted to get him so bad," Kapp said.
Kapp can be excused. His scoring run on 4th-and-1 capped a momentum-maintaining drive that gave the Bears a 30-0 lead and allowed them to cruise the rest of the way.
Cal only was looking for a first down on the play, but Kapp broke the tackle attempt of Washington State cornerback Damante Horton and ran untouched to the end zone.
Replays showed Kapp smiling for the final 10-15 yards.
"I'm smiling the whole game," Kapp said.
The touchdown set off a wild celebration on Cal's sideline, not only because it realistically blew the game open, but because Kapp has earned the respect and admiration of the team's entire roster. A former walk-on and fifth-year senior, Kapp has emerged as a team leader this season because of his work ethic and inspirational attitude.
"I couldn't be happier for someone who is so passionate about this program and works so hard and is so committed to things," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said."I don't think there was a player on that team or in that locker room that could be happier for that guy. It took him awhile to get there, but he got there."
Kapp was mobbed by teammates on the sideline, then shared a special embrace with run game coordinator Ron Gould.
"Words can't explain how I felt when Will scored that touchdown," Gould said. "He works so hard. He's our vocal leader, our inspirational leader. He's earned respect because of who he is and what he does. Everyone looks to him."
Kapp came to Cal as a defensive back but was switched to fullback early on in his career. He was an accomplished prep running back at Los Gatos High School, tallying 2,257 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career.
But as a fullback, he hasn't touched the ball much with the Bears. Entering the game, he had just six career rushes for 19 yards.
Then there was that kickoff. Kapp couldn't make the play on Cougars returner Isiah Barton, who was ultimately brought down by C.J. Moncrease.
"He scored the touchdown and then he goes out on the kickoff and almost makes the tackle," Gould said. "That says something about his heart. He was sucking gas when he came off the field after the touchdown, but you would have to shoot him to get him off the field. He was not going to let anyone else go in for him on that kickoff."