BERKELEY, Calif. — Quarterback Brad Sorensen earned another spot in the Southern Utah record books. He'd gladly exchange it to get back the one poor throw he made.
Sorensen, who holds just about every passing record in school history, threw four touchdown passes to break Rick Rollins' career record but also had a pivotal interception that California cornerback Marc Anthony returned 61 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"They just had the right coverage called for that," said Sorensen after Southern Utah's 50-31 loss to Cal. "(Anthony) came off and made a good play."
In a game in which the Golden Bears owned three long scoring plays to break the game open, Anthony's interception was the most significant.
Anthony, who tipped a Hail Mary pass the Thunderbirds converted into a touchdown just before halftime, made the interception after Southern Utah receiver Henna Brown appeared to run the wrong route on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Sorensen threw a short pass into the right flat for Brown, who kept running while Anthony turned to make the interception. Anthony then worked his way downfield into the end zone to help give Cal a 34-17 lead.
The Bears piled on quickly after that to keep the Thunderbirds (0-2) winless.
"Our defense wore down a little bit after those long plays," Thunderbirds coach Ed Lamb said. "That's very disheartening for a defense to play so hard, keep it close all day and then have three scores go in like that in a matter of five minutes."
Sorensen, a preseason candidate for the Walter Payton Award, completed 31 of 45 pass attempts for 292 yards. He went into the game needing three TDs to tie Rollins' career record but broke it after throwing a 7-yard score to Fatu Moala with 42 seconds left to play.
"I don't think the offense performed as well as it should have last week so to come out here and put points on the board is obviously positive," Sorensen said. "We're going to get back to work and try and clean up some of the sacks and the interception."
Keenan Allen had two touchdowns, one on a 69-yard punt return, to help the Bears notch their first victory at newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
A week after losing the home-opener to Nevada, Cal (1-1) had 518 yards of offense but couldn't shake Southern Utah, an FCS school playing its first season in the Big Sky Conference, until the fourth quarter, when the Bears forced two turnovers and scored 30 points.
Things will get significantly more challenging for the Bears now. They go on the road to face No. 14 Ohio State next Saturday then take a trip to second-ranked Southern California the following week.
Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, making his first start of the season after being benched for the first three series in the loss to Nevada, completed 17 of 23 attempts for 229 yards and the touchdown to Allen.
C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele both added short touchdown runs, and Daniel Lasco scored on a 77-yard run in the fourth quarter.2 comments on this story
Two big mistakes by the Bears defense — and an outstanding one-handed catch by the Thunderbirds' Cameron Morgan — kept the game from being a total blowout before halftime.
Sorensen's Hail Mary pass in the end zone as time expired fell incomplete, but Cal defensive back Steve Williams was called for pass interference, giving the Thunderbirds an extra play. Sorensen then heaved another long pass that Morgan pulled in for a 37-yard touchdown. Anthony tipped the ball in the air but Morgan alertly grabbed it with his left hand as he was falling out of the back of the end zone for the score.
It was one of the few things that went right for Southern Utah.
"We're going to move the ball on a lot of teams and score a lot of points this year," Lamb said. "I'm positively confident in our players. We came here to win and we're very disappointed."