BERKELEY – Cal made it look easy in the first quarter of the season opener Saturday night.
The rest of the night was a different story as the Bears lost 22-17 to Nevada ahead of 35,117 at Memorial Stadium, their first home game with fans in 658 days.
The Bears led 14-0 after a first quarter in which they ran 24 games to 3 for Nevada and surpassed the Wolf Pack 135 yards to 6.
But Cal just managed a field goal the rest of the night, and twice in the fourth quarter wasted chances that could have helped change the result.
The Bears had a first down on the Nevada 11-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but settled for a 24-yard Dario Longhetto field goal.
An interception by Cal safety Miles Williams at the Nevada 1-yard line set up a march that gave the Bears a first drop at Wolf Pack 13. But Chase Garbers was fired at the third down and Longhetto missed a 40-yard field goal by 7: 11 to play.
On Cal’s next possession, Garber threw deep to sophemore Jeremiah Hunter, but was picked by Isaiah Essissima in midfield.
Garbers finished 25 for 38 for 177 yards, while Damien Moore rushed 15 times for 79 yards.
Carson Strong, a native of Vacaville who is considered a potential NFL rounder in the first round, was 22 for 39 for 312 yards with two TDs as Nevada beat Cal for the third time since 2019.
It all looked so promising early on for Cal, hoping to set last year’s 1-3 record in hindsight. Moore scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 15-play, 63-yard drive that opened the game. After forcing a three-out-out to Nevada, the Bears went 72 yards on nine games, with the Garbers firing a quick 2-yard touchdown pass to Nikko Remigio with 3 seconds left of the quarter.
But as dominant as Cal was during the first 15 minutes, Nevada returned favor in the second quarter as she crept within 14-13 at the break. The Wolf Pack surpassed the Bears 142-23, packing goals at 43 and 35 yards by Brandon Talton around an impressive 43-yard touchdown strike from Strong to Romeo Doubs.
Nevada took the lead for the first time when Strong threw a 16-yard TD pass to Elijah Cooks in the first series in the third quarter. The two-point attempt failed, but Wolf Pack was at 19-14.
Talton’s 50-yard field goal with 6:26 left in the quarter made it 22-14. By that time, Nevada had scored 22 unanswered points.