SAN FRANCISCO -- Like a tug-of-war between two one-armed men, someone had to come out on top on Saturday, and, thanks to 217 first-half offensive yards and a defense that gave up just 35 yards before the break, that someone was California.
The Bears (4-3, 1-3 in Pac-12) avoided their first four-game losing streak under head coach Jeff Tedford by handing Utah a sound 37-10 defeat at AT&T Park, out-gaining the Utes 384 yards to 178, and abusing second-string quarterback Jon Hays.
"It is one win, but it was desperately needed, no question about it," said Tedford, who had been winless since becoming the program's all-time wins leader in week three against FCS opponent Presbyterian. "We said last week that we were going to start the season over, right now.
"The taste in the guys' mouths, to stop the bleeding a little bit, was awesome. I'm very happy, excited, we'll enjoy this one for a day or so, and then we have another one to play, and that's the way it's going to be the rest of the season: one at a time, just continue to try to reach our full potential."
The Cal defense held Utah to just two first downs in the first half and picked Hays off three times on the evening, with senior linebacker Mychal Kendricks, freshman corner Stefan McClure and junior defensive back Josh Hill each coming up with interceptions. In all, the Bears' defense forced four turnovers, racked up four sacks for 14 yards and held the Utes to 4-of-12 on third down. The Bears tallied 11.0 tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble, and 61 tackles, led by inside linebacker D.J. Holt. Defensive end Trevor Guyton recorded three tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, along with a QB hurry.
"That was a very good defensive performance," Tedford said. "We knew, coming in, that they had a chance to do that, because Utah's been struggling a little bit on offense, but I thought they did a great job of containing the run, because last week, they ran the ball real well against Pitt, and so I thought we stopped the run real well."
The Bears held dynamic rusher John White to just 39 yards on 15 carries. 37 of those yards came after the half, as White was held to two yards on seven carries before the break.
The finally-healthy redshirt freshman David Wilkerson had the best game of his young career, tallying a career-high five tackles, 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss (21 yards).
More importantly, the limping Bears offense -- headed by junior quarterback Zach Maynard -- finally came around against one of the better defenses in the conference.
"I've kept saying things about him growing through things, and he's very receptive to coaching and he's very resilient to come back, and he came in today and we didn't turn the football over at all," Tedford said of Maynard, who threw three picks last week against USC. "I thought he was really smart with the ball, and made good decisions. He improved from last week.
"I think he knows. I think he knows that things were moving fast [last week], and he's going to make a couple mistakes. I mean, he's not the first quarterback to throw three picks. A lot of quarterbacks have thrown three picks, but I wasn't really afraid of him being down, at all, because he's very receptive and very mentally tough and so he had a great week of practice and came out to try to get better each day, and to manage the game better."
Maynard went 19-for-29 for 255 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and two sacks on the day, spreading the ball around to five different receivers. Eight times Maynard threw to his brother Keenan Allen, who had 78 yards and one touchdown on a quick five-yard dart over the line at the end of the first half to make the score 20-0. Senior Marvin Jones caught five passes for 69 yards, while senior Michael Calvin hauled in four catches for 49.
Tailback Isi Sofele rushed a career-high 26 times for 84 yards to push his career total to 1,047.
Against the second-ranked rushing defense in the conference, Mayanrd rushed 10 times for 36 yards, and scored his second rushing touchdown in as many games. Take away Maynard's two sacks for 6 yards, and he posted 42 yards when he tucked the ball and ran. Maynard set a Cal career high in rushing attempts, and posted the most rushing yards he's had since his Bears debut in week one against Fresno State, when he ran six times for 52 yards. Maynard also got a lot of mileage out of throwing on the run, particularly when he rolled to his left.
"It was part of the plan," Tedford said. "You can do that sometimes, but you can't live on it. I thought he did a real nice job on the edge and really surveying the field. He hit the back crossers a couple times, thought he did a real nice job of getting on the edge and doing some things. I thought coach [Eric] Kiesau really mixed it up well, as far as some of the play calls of keeping him in [the pocket], getting him out, those types of things."
After Maynard led the Bears on an 11-play, 87-yard scoring drive that chewed up 4:46 on the clock in the middle of the third quarter, Cal got the ball back thanks to the duo of Wilkerson and McClure -- Wilkerson sending Hays spinning to the ground, and McClure picking off the resultant wild heave. Maynard proceeded to lead the Bears on yet another drive, using inside handoffs to Sofele, his own legs to gain yards and time, and rolling left only to throw against his body back over the middle to tight end Anthony Miller down field, perfectly placed over the shoulder of linebacker Trevor Reilly for a 44-yard completion.
"Today, I thought he did an excellent job of when he was on the move, especially," Tedford said. "With every phase of that game, he hit the outside guy, he hit the guy underneath, he hit the over the top guy, he even worked the fourth phase, with Anthony down the middle of the field."