SALT LAKE CITY - Sophomore fullback Jake Anderson slotted the go-ahead penalty kick for the Golden Bears with no time remaining as California beat Utah, 23-22, Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Anderson made all three of his attempts after taking over the duties midway through the second half from flyhalf Alex Aronson, who subbed out after converting three of his six attempts.
Replacement forward Alex Muehle had just given Utah its only lead in the contest with his try before Utah was whistled to set up Anderson's gamewinner from 45 meters on an angle into a stiff breeze.
"Utah was every bit as good as we thought they might be, especially at this venue," said head coach Jack Clark. "It was pretty clear that they were more physical than us, but needless to say, we're happy to achieve the victory."
Cal led 11-0 at halftime thanks to a try from Anthony Lombardo and two Aronson penalties. But the Utes felt they had a shot.
"We just needed to regroup," said Utah scrumhalf Don Pati. "We came into the game wanting to focus on defense, and we knew we had to do that and take care of the ball. We knew if we did that, good things would happen."
Pati scored a key try to make the score 11-7, taking a gap, as he does so well, and putting his team back in the game.
"The forwards set that up; they did all thye work to make it happen," said Pati. "I felt we needed to score right away."
They did that and then defended doggedly.
"The boys defended really well," added Pati.
Outside center Tonata Lauti added another try for Utah, and although the Bears' backline managed to initiate breaks behind the Utah defense, the Utes did not yield another try before sub No. 8 Alex Muehle put the Utes on top with two minutes remaining.
"We had to take care of the ball, and we did a good job of that, but not at the end," said Utah Head Coach Blake Burdette. "We couldn't keep it and they got the penalty and won. There are no moral victories. The guys played well - a big improvement over earlier games - but we didn't win a game we felt we could have. We held Cal to one try, but couldn't win it, and I guess that's what it comes down to."
Pens: Aronson 3, Anderson 3
Tries: Pati, Lauti, Muehle
Convs: Christensen 2