Denker leads Arizona to rare road victory over Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. – B.J. Denker ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth, Ka’Deem Carey went over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season and Arizona beat California 33-28 on Saturday afternoon.
A week after setting a school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in one game, Denker managed just 44 yards on the ground but scored on runs of 9, 1 and 14 yards. That gave the Wildcats senior a team-leading 11 rushing touchdowns this season, another Arizona record for quarterbacks.
Carey, the nation’s leading rusher, topped the century mark for the 11th consecutive game with 152 yards on 32 carries.
Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff passed for four touchdowns but was intercepted twice in the second half.
Arizona’s third straight win improved the Wildcats to 6-2 (3-2 Pac-12) and makes them bowl eligible for the second time in two seasons under coach Rich Rodriguez.
The home team had won the previous six times in this series between longtime conference rivals before Denker sparked the Wildcats to their first win at Berkeley since a double-overtime victory in 1997.
Denker completed 24 of 38 passes for 261 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Nate Phillips in the second quarter.
That was enough for Arizona, which couldn’t shake the pesky Golden Bears until Denker’s 14-yard score near the end of the third quarter.
Goff kept Cal (1-8, 0-6) close despite a rocky afternoon.
He completed 34 of 56 passes for 289 yards, and his interceptions came on back-to-back drives. The first came while the Bears were backed up deep in their own territory, while the second was in the end zone when Goff tried to force a throw into coverage.
Little went right for Cal after scoring on its opening possession.
Goff completed passes to five different receivers and capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown throw to Khalfani Muhammad. That put the Bears up 7-0, their first lead in more than 244 minutes.
It didn’t last long.
Denker scored on a read-option keeper around the left end from nine yards out to tie the game, then Arizona’s defense put the Wildcats in front with a safety.
Arizona thought it had Cal stopped for a safety earlier in the first quarter but an intentional grounding penalty against Goff was waved off. Given a second shot after Carey was dropped for a 1-yard loss on 4th-and-2, the Wildcats cashed in when linebacker Scooby Wright and safety Jared Tevis tackled Bears running back Darren Ervin in the end zone.
Jake Smith’s career-best 53-yard field goal extended Arizona’s lead to 12-7 with 12:54 left in the second quarter. Smith’s previous longest attempt had been 41 yards.
Denker’s touchdown pass to Phillips helped make it 19-7.