SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Zach Maynard overcame a rough start to his California career to throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns to Marvin Jones to lead the Golden Bears to a 36-21 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.
Isi Sofele ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns, Jones had 118 yards receiving and defensive end Trevor Guyton scored on a 22-yard fumble return to give the Bears an emphatic start to the season a year after posting a losing record.
The Cal defense harassed Derek Carr in his first start at quarterback for the Bulldogs as the Golden Bears won for the first time in three meetings between the schools.
The game was at a neutral site, Candlestick Park, with Fresno State bringing a larger contingent of fans in the crowd of 31,563.
The Cal fans had much more to cheer about — especially after Maynard recovered from the early interception that helped give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, struggled with his accuracy, completing just 16 for 35, but had a knack for the big play as he capitalized against a Fresno State defense missing injured safety Phillip Thomas.
Keenan Allen, Maynard’s half-brother, added eight catches for 112 yards. Allen and Jones became the first Cal duo to top 100 yards in the same game since DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins did it against Minnesota in 2006.
Maynard’s mobility helped him win the job, and he showed it off with a couple of long runs, including a 48-yarder on Cal’s opening drive of the second half that set up his second TD throw. The 23-yarder to Jones made it 26-14, and the Bears put the game away with their defense.
Steve Williams intercepted Carr on the next drive to stop a scoring chance, and Cecil Whiteside knocked the ball out of Carr’s hands on a sack on the next drive. Guyton scooped up the loose ball and went in for the score.
Carr is the younger brother of former Fresno State star and 2002 No. 1 overall draft pick David Carr. His debut was highly anticipated among Fresno State followers, but the Bulldogs’ entire offense struggled behind four new starters on the offensive line.
Carr finished 21 for 33 for 142 yards and was sacked four times. The Bulldogs didn’t top 200 total yards until a meaningless drive late in the fourth quarter.
The day couldn’t have started off much worse for Maynard and the Bears. After an illegal formation penalty negated the first offensive play for Cal, Maynard threw his first pass right to Fresno State cornerback L.J. Jones, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the 16. Three plays later, Robbie Rouse ran in from 9 yards for the opening score.
Cal answered with a 67-yard drive that included two big third-down conversions by Maynard, who hit Keenan Allen for 23 yards on third-and-3 and Marvin Jones for 11 on third-and-10. That helped set up Sofele’s first TD fun from 1-yard out. Giorgio Tavecchio’s point-after attempt was blocked.
Sofele scored on a 39-yard run and Jones caught a 42-yard TD pass to make it 19-7 after the first quarter.
Despite outgaining Fresno State 310-122 in the first half, the Bears only led 19-14 at the break after a botched snap by Dominic Galas led to a fumble in the end zone by Sofele that Christin Wilson recovered for a touchdown.
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