CHAPEL HILL N.C. (AP) — Ross Bowers threw for 363 yards and four touchdowns in his first college start, helping California beat North Carolina 35-30 on Saturday in the Golden Bears’ first game under Justin Wilcox.
Bowers, a sophomore, had never thrown a pass in a college game and had to win a preseason battle for the starting job. But he shook off two interceptions and came up with several good throws to help Cal (1-0) win its first East Coast day game since 2012.
Vic Wharton III had five catches for 156 yards for Cal, which trailed 17-7 in the second quarter. But a targeting penalty on UNC’s Jalen Dalton extended a drive to set up Wharton’s 67-yard score just before halftime, a game-changing sequence that helped Cal outscore UNC 28-7.
Michael Carter scored twice for UNC (0-1), which started LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris at quarterback but leaned more on redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt.
California: Cal figured to look different after the past four years of the prolific “Bear Raid” offense and porous defense. The offense still put up strong numbers on the strength of several huge gains, while the defense never let a young UNC offense build any sustained momentum. Hard to imagine Wilcox could’ve asked for much more in his debut.
UNC: The Tar Heels entered the offseason and preseason camp with a lot of questions on offense, most notably with the departure of No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. And this game showed that the Tar Heels are going to need a lot of work to look anything like the fast-paced and high-scoring unit of past years.
Cal hosts Weber State in its home opener next weekend.
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