Cal, minus more than half of its starting offensive unit for much of the game, lost 31-27 at Oregon State on Saturday after quarterback Chase Garbers had a tipped pass intercepted with 58 seconds to play.
The day was full of bad news from the start for the Bears, who announced an hour beforehand that three offensive linemen were sidelined by COVID-19 issues.
Cal, which had its first two scheduled games wiped out by the coronavirus and lost 34-10 at UCLA last Sunday, was believed to be basically at full strength for the Beavers.
Garbers threw three touchdowns but his first-and-10 pass from the OSU 10-yard line was tipped at the line of scrimmage and grabbed by the Beavers’ John McCartan.
Oregon State (1-2) got 196 rushing yards and a touchdown from Jermar Jefferson.
Cal announced before the game that three starting offensive linemen were out because of COVID-19 issues and four other players, including starting running back Christopher Brown would not play for unspecified reasons. Starting tight end Collin Moore also was on the shelf, along with nose guard Stanley McKenzie.
By early in the second quarter, the Bears were playing without a fourth starting O-lineman when center Michael Saffell left with an apparent right leg or foot injury. He was on crutches on the sideline.
Starting tackles Jake Curhan and Will Craig and guard Valentino Daltoso were shelved by the virus. One of them tested positive, according to Cal, and the other two were out after contact tracing. Curhan, Daltoso and Saffell all are seniors.
In place of the starters, Cal had redshirt freshman Brayden Rhome at left tackle, redshirt sophomore Matthew Cindric at left guard, redshirt freshman Brian Driscoll at center and redshirt sophomore Brandon Mello at right tackle. The only starter who survived the game was sophomore right guard McKade Mettauer.
The Bears regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter after safety Eliajah Hicks returned an interception 30 yards to the PSU 32, and Chase Garbers threw his third touchdown of the afternoon, a 2-yarder to tight end Jake Tonges.
But the lead was short-lived.
Cal’s Jamison Sheahan had a punt blocked on Cal by Jesiah Irish, setting up the Beavers at the 14-yard line. Quarterback Tristan Gebbia, who earlier had a touchdown pass and a TD catch, converted a 1-yard sneak for the TD and a 31-27 lead with 4:30 left.
Covid-19 suspected as Cal Bears rule out seven players just before kickoff
Pac-12 graduate rates: Oregon, UCLA basketball struggle in classroom
Are you ready for some college basketball? Bay Area teams open season next week
What you need to know before Cal takes on Oregon State
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports