Cody Fajardo fights for extra yards.
Sept. 1, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Stefphon Jeffersonran for 141 yards and scored his third touchdown with 36 seconds remaining as Nevada spoiled the reopening of Memorial Stadium by beating California 31-24 on Saturday.
Cody Fajardocompleted 25 of 32 passes for 230 yards and added 101 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Wolf Pack (1-0), who put a damper on what was supposed to be a celebratory day for the Golden Bears in their first on-campus game in 21 months.
Quarterback Zach Maynard returned after being benched for the first three series as punishment for missing a tutoring session earlier this summer to throw two touchdown passes for Cal (0-1). But he also lost a fumble deep in Nevada territory in the fourth quarter as the Bears lost at home to Nevada for the second time in 25 tries and first since 1903.
The Wolf Pack had beaten Cal just once before winning 52-31 two years ago at home behind star quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Fajardo was nearly as effective this game. Fajardo helped Nevada break out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and then led three second-half scoring drives to give the Wolf Pack the win.
Cal appeared to seize the momentum in the third quarter when Keenan Allen answered Jefferson's second touchdown run with an elusive 39-yard score on a reverse.
Khalid Wootenfumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Cal had to settle for a field goal by Vincenzo D'Amato that cut the lead to 21-17. Maynard then fumbled at the Nevada 21 at the end of a scramble early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears did tie the game later in the fourth on a 13-yard TD pass to Chris Harper but could never take the lead.
The day got off to a festive start as Cal held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reopen Memorial Stadium, which underwent a $321 million seismic retrofit and renovation. The Bears returned home after playing last season's games across the bay at the San Francisco Giants home of AT&T Park.
Highlights of the facility include a new outdoor plaza, luxury suites and press box and a refurbished Romanesque facade from the original 1923 structure. Everything but the outer facade and the seating bowl on the east side of the stadium was rebuilt from the ground up to make the stadium, which rests on an earthquake fault running almost directly between the goal posts, safer and more modern.
There wasn't much to celebrate early for the sellout crowd of 63,186 as the offense sputtered behind backup Allan Bridgford, who completed one of his seven passes and the defense once again struggled against Nevada's pistol offense.
Fajardo converted on fourth-and-inches on Nevada's second drive to set up Jefferson's 2-yard TD run and then went 49 yards on a keeper on the final play of the first quarter to make it 14-0.
Maynard led the Bears to a score on his third drive in the game, connecting on a 37-yard TD pass to freshman Bryce Treggs but D'Amato missed a 31-yard field goal wide left in final minute of half as Cal went to the half down 14-7.
NEVADA GAME NOTES
Nevada vs. Cal
Sept. 1, 2012
With the 31-24 win over Cal, Nevada opened the season with a win for the second time in three years. The win moved Nevada’s all-time record to 511-441-33 and Hall of Fame Coach Chris Ault saw his record move to 227-103-1.
OPENERS: Nevada is now 59-44-3 all-time in season openers and Ault is 17-11. More importantly, Nevada broke a stretch of bad luck in season openers on the road. Going into today’s opener at Cal, Nevada was 0-for-13 in season openers on the road. The Pack’s last season-opening win on the road was 1987 when the Pack won at Eastern Washington, 40-26.
VS. BCS: Nevada’s win today marked the Pack’s fifth win over a BCS school and third since the start of the 2010 season. The Wolf Pack beat Washington in 2003, Northwestern in 2006, Cal in 2010 and Boston College in 2010. Nevada will have another opportunity next week when South Florida of the Big East comes to Mackay Stadium.
FAJARDO SHINES: Sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo was brilliant on Saturday, completing 25-of-32 for 230 yards. He also ran 21 times for 97 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown. Fajardo commanded the offense to the tune of 450 yards of total offense. Fajardo connected on his first seven attempts in the game for 51 yards. Fajardo his six different receivers during the game and each target had at least three catches.
WIM RETURNS: Brandon Wimberly missed all of the 2011 season due to injury but his senior season got off to a solid start on Saturday. Wimberly led Nevada in receiving with 7 catches for 83 yards. Five the catches went for first downs but none was bigger than his last catch – a 19-yarder on third-and-9 that took Nevada to the 2-yard line, setting up Stefphon Jefferson’s game-winning score. Wimberly has now caught a pass in every game of his career, a stretch of 28 straight that is the sixth-longest streak in the nation.
PBUs: Last year, Nevada’s Isaiah Frey was second in the nation in pass breakups and led the nation in passes defended. Though Frey is off to the NFL, the Pack secondary picked it up on Saturday against Cal, breaking up seven passes, including two each by Boughton and Garrett.
JEFFERSON ERUPTS: Junior Stefphon Jefferson claimed the starting job at running back in fall camp and he showed no signs of letting go of it. Jefferson was the only running back who carried the ball and he had 145 yards on 34 carries with three touchdowns to lead the way. It was Jefferson’s third 100-yard game of his career and his first three-touchdown game. It was his first-multi-touchdown game since the New Mexico State game (Oct. 29) last season.
STARTS: Five Wolf Pack players made their first career start on Saturday. They were: Matt Galas, Brock Hekking, Jordan Hanson, Lenny Jones, Bryan Lane Jr. Overall, Nevada had 10 new starters in the game.
DEBUTS: A number of players saw their first collegiate action for the Pack on Saturday, including: Markus Smith, Reggie Coates, Burton De Koning, Richy Turner, Bryson Keeton, Bryan Lane Jr., Arthur Forrest II, Danny DeCarlo, Chase Tenpenny, Josh Wiley, Cortez Woods, Jordan Dobrich, Jonathan McNeal, Connor Talbott, Tyler Houk, Lenny Jones and Fred Lavulo.
EXTRA POINTS: Nevada won the toss and deferred to the second half … Cal received the opening kickoff and defended the south goal to start the game … Nevada opened in a two-tight end set with Kolby Arendse getting the start … Chris Barker started his 41st straight game, all 41 games of his career … the game was the first in the new renovated Memorial Stadium and Jefferson’s 2-yard TD run in the first quarter was the first score in the new stadium … Nevada is now 1-0 as a Mountain West school.