Though the 21-0 win against Mexico wasn't the high-scoring game the Pintos are used to executing, Friday's contest at Riley Field still served its purpose, which is to get California one step closer to another winning season. (The Pintos are 2-0.)
"We figured this game was going to be tougher than last week's, and it definitely was," California Head Coach Marty Albertson said. 'Mexico was better than we expected. They gave us a lot of problems. I was impressed by their front seven kids on offense. Our kids were disappointed to only score 21 points, but I told them a win is a win, and some of that was due to my play-calling. It's frustrating for the offensive line not to make the yards they're used to."
Albertson said he was more conservative in his play-calling in the second half. "They eventually stopped our running game and forced us to throw the ball. Since we were up 21-0 at the half, we didn't throw as much in the second half. We wanted to get the ground game going, and the way the game was dictating, we needed to run the clock."
The Pintos got their scoring game started on their second series of the night when quarterback Jaden Barr broke out on the third play with an 89-yard touchdown run. Jose Magano kicked the extra point and California led 7-0 with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
With 7:51 remaining in the first half, Mexico's drive ended before it started when California's Landon Mouse intercepted Spencer Thomas' pass on the first play. The Pintos ensued with a 3-play drive capped with a 21-yard TD pass from Barr to Drew Norton. After Magano's point after, California led 14-0 with 6:29 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs' answered with a series cut short by another Mouse interception. The Pintos, however, were unable to capitalize on the turnover as California's first play resulted in an interception by Mexico's Austyn Sampo. The Bulldogs came up empty on their next series, but the Pintos answered with a 2-play drive capped with 33-yard TD when Barr connected with Allan Burger on a pass. Magano scored the point after, and California led 21-0 with 1:34 left in the first half.
Action in the second half included three turnovers. California's opening drive of the fourth quarter resulted in a fumble recovered by the Bulldogs, then Mexico's next two drives ended with turnovers, the first a fumble recovered by California's Mouse, and the second an interception by California's Drew Norton.
The Pintos ended up with 28 carries for a total of 197 yards, and Barr completed 7 of 12 passes for 111 yards, including two TDs. Barr led California rushing with eight carries for 149 yards. AJ Kendrick had seven carries for 17 yards, and Walker Borghardt had eight carries for 17 yards. Burger had four carries for 12 yards.
Drew Norton had four receptions for a total of 47 yards, including one TD. Burger had one TD reception for 33 yards. Kade McAdams had one reception for 25 yards, and Mouse had one for six yards.
Mexico had 44 carries for a total of 85 yards, and Spencer Thomas completed 3 of 12 passes for 15 yards.
Burger led California tackles with 12. Dylan Norton had seven tackles and one sack for a 10-yard loss. Mouse had six tackles, one sack for a 7-yard loss and two interceptions. Brandan Gump had six tackles and one sack for an 8-yard loss. Ramiro Garcia also had a sack for a 2-yard loss.
"I thought we did some good things in the first half with the gun and we threw the ball pretty well," Albertson said. "Our secondary played well. Our strength right now is on the defensive side of the ball, but we have to be able to move the ball when we need to, and in the second half we didn't do our job."
Looking ahead to Friday's game at Versailles, Albertson said, "They're better than they were last year, though they're still in transition with their coach in his second year. But we can't take them lightly. I assume they're running a spread, since that's what they practiced this summer. So we'll probably have five d-backs in there, which kind of plays to our strengths because we have some pretty good d-backs."
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Versailles.