April 21, 2012
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BERKELEY - A crowd of 8,812 enjoyed the Cal Spring Football Experience presented by Peterson Tractor on a wonderful and picturesque Saturday as sunny skies and warm temperatures filled Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium with positive vibes. The Gold team edged the Blue squad, 21-20, earning a post-game bus ride back up the hill to Memorial Stadium while the Blue squad got in a little bit of a hike after the contest.
The game came down to the final play when Tyré Ellison broke up a two-point conversion in the end zone to ensure the Gold's victory. Austin Hinder had hooked up with Stephen Anderson on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play of regulation to pull the Blue squad within a point.
"It was a good way to end spring ball and an exciting game coming down the stretch," head coach Jeff Tedford said.
But the fans were the real winners Saturday as they got a chance to spend time with their favorite Golden Bears of the present and past, with several NFL players returning to Berkeley to take in the event that was part of Cal Day activities on campus.
The south end of Goldman Field was set up as the Fun Zone with booths selling merchandise, promoting social media, offering blue and gold hair painting, and even a bouncy castle providing the pregame entertainment. The Cal Straw Hat band and Cal Dance team also made appearances.
When the game got underway fans were able to get a look at some of the younger players that will see more time on the field next season when the Bears return to a renovated Memorial Stadium after playing their 2011 home contests at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
"I'm hungry for football and really fired up and ready for next season," one Cal undergrad said. "AT&T was good last year, but it just isn't the same as Memorial Stadium."
Fans were involved during the game as well with a series of activities during breaks that involved Cal players and coaches. A relay race after the first quarter got things started. Later, two lucky fans even had the opportunity to call plays with Tedford, including the first offensive play of the second quarter that resulted in a long completion that moved the chains for a first down.
Later, during a short break between the third and fourth quarters, five fans tried to catch a 25-yard touchdown pass from each of Cal's five quarterbacks.
"It was awesome and just a dream come true," said Josh Wright, one of three fan receivers to secure a touchdown catch and be rewarded by being able to keep the ball. "This is my first time coming out to spring fan day and it has been a lot of fun."
"The Cal fans that came out to watch the game showed their true blue and gold," said Cameron Jordan, a first-round NFL Draft choice who finished his Cal career in 2010 and now plays on the defensive line of the New Orleans Saints. "It's always great to see so much pride and see how eager everyone is looking forward to the upcoming season."
On the field, what Cal fans saw was a highly competitive and spirited contest in which the Gold squad battled back from a 14-3 deficit midway through the second quarter and then held off the blue team's late dramatics when Ellison broke up Hinder's two-point conversion attempt on a throw intended for Maurice Harris in the corner of the end zone.
"It was great to see the team come out and do what we love to do, play fast and physical football," Ellison said after the game.
Zach Maynard, who completed 6-of-10 passes for 109 yards, gave the Blue squad an early 7-0 lead with 8:57 to go in the first quarter when he led his team on a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass to his cousin Harris.
After a 47-yard James Langford field goal cut the Blue's advantage to 7-3, Maynard struck again this time on the ground with a one-yard touchdown run that wrapped up a 10-play, 75-yard march.
"It was a good game, a hard-fought game and a good practice overall," Maynard said. "Unfortunately, we got beat by one point."
The Gold team cut the margin to 14-13 at halftime on another field goal by Langford from 41 yards out and a 14-yard touchdown run by C.J. Anderson.
After playing a pair of 15-minute quarters with regular timing, the second half consisted of a pair of 12-minute running clock periods.
Neither team scored in the third quarter before the teams traded touchdowns in the fourth.
Zach Kline found Spencer Hagan on a 40-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field with 7:35 remaining to give the Gold its first lead of the day and then connected with Jackson Bouza for the two-point conversion that would prove to be the final margin after the Blue cut it to 21-20 on the Hinder-Anderson hookup.
Anderson led all rushers with 14 rushes for 85 yards and his score, while Sofele paced the Blue's rushing attack with nine carries for 34 yards.
"It went well," Anderson said. "I've got a year under my belt and now I can let my abilities play. Last year, I was doing a lot of thinking on the field and learning the offense."
Harris had a game-high seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown but Stephen Anderson ended up with 96 yards on his two catches to lead all receivers. Jackson Bouza led the Gold squad with four catches for 41 yards.
Hinder completed 4-of-5 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, while Kyle Boehm was 2-of-6 for 32 yards in backup roles to Maynard. Gold starting quarterback Allan Bridgford was 11-of-20 for 90 yards with one interception, while Kline finished 3-of-5 for 54 yards and his touchdown toss.
Three players shared game-high honors with seven tackles each as Cecil Whiteside and Puka Lopa reached the total for the Gold, while Nick Forbes had seven tackles with the Blue. Whiteside and Lopa also had one sack each for the winners, as did Stephen Fanua and Lucas King. Avery Sebastian had the game's only interception for the Blue when he picked off a Bridgford pass.
The fun and games continued after the game on the field when fans and players faced off in a pie-eating contest. Senior center Dominic Galas was the winner after nearly finishing two whole pies in one minute with Tedford blowing the whistle.
"The pie contest was a lot of fun, but the game was even better," Galas said. "I think just moving the pie around, more than anything, makes it look like you ate more of it."
All of the players and coaches were happy to stick around after contest, signing autographs and talking with fans long after the game had ended.
"A lot of people put in a lot of hard work to have this event, and I appreciate their hard work," Tedford said. "The kids got excited about it. It was fun for them."
Cal is preparing for a return to a renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012, opening the season at home against Nevada on Saturday, Sept. 1. Cal's seven-game home slate will also feature Pac-12 contests against Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Washington and UCLA, as well as a non-conference tilt against Southern Utah.
Visit CaliforniaMemorialStadium.com or call the Cal Athletic Ticket Office at (800) GO BEARS (462-3277) for 2012 Cal football ticket information.
CAL FOOTBALL SPRING EXPERIENCE UNOFFICIAL STATS
2012 CAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Day, Date - Opponent (Time, TV)