BERKELEY, Calif. — Patrick Laird ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns to help California rally to beat lower-level Weber State 33-20 on Saturday.
Coach Justin Wilcox's home debut for the Golden Bears (2-0) almost turned into a disaster as Cal trailed Weber State (1-1) of the FCS by three points heading into the fourth quarter.
But after Matt Anderson tied the game with a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth, Laird took over. He carried five times on a seven-play drive following a fumble by Andrew Vollert near midfield and gave the Bears a 27-20 lead with a 1-yard run.
The Bears then got a key stop when halfback Kevin Smith barely overthrew quarterback Stefan Cantwell on a trick play that was nearly a touchdown and then Cantwell threw incompletions on third and fourth down from the 13.
Laird iced the game three plays later with a 73-yard run for his second long TD of the game. He scored on a 51-yard run in the first half as he picked up the load after Tre Watson left early with an injury.
The Wildcats, who have never beaten a Power Five team, played Cal tough and even led 20-17 at halftime thanks to some big pass plays from Cantwell and a momentum-changing sequence late in the half.
Ross Bowers fumbled inside the Weber State 10 and the Wildcats drove down to get a 45-yard field goal from Trey Tuttle on the final play of the half.
WEBER STATE: The Wildcats played aggressively all game in hopes of ending a 30-game losing streak against FBS teams. Cantwell had eight completions of at least 20 yards and threw for 431 yards. Weber State even tried a surprise onside kick in the first half, a fake field goal in the third quarter and the trick play late. If any of those last three plays would have worked, the Wildcats might have pulled off the upset bid.
CALIFORNIA: After an impressive debut under Wilcox that led to a 35-30 road win at North Carolina, the Bears struggled in their home opener. The secondary left receivers open downfield all game and Bowers wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in his four-TD performance a week ago.
WEBER STATE: The Wildcats visit Sacramento State in a game that won't count in the Big Sky standings.
CALIFORNIA: The Bears host Mississippi.