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Cal moves closer to bowl eligibility with 37-23 win against Oregon State

Cal's Patrick Laird, left, celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Oregon State during the first half Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Berkeley.

MICHAEL WAGAMAN,

BERKELEY — Ross Bowers passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yarder to Jordan Veasy that gave Cal some breathing room in the second half, and the Golden Bears held off Oregon State 37-23 on Saturday.

Patrick Laird rushed for a career-high 214 yards and a touchdown while Matt Anderson kicked three field goals to become Cal’s career-scoring leader while helping the Bears (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) snap a two-game losing streak.

Cal’s second win in seven games also moved coach Justin Wilcox’s team closer to the postseason. The Bears need to beat either Stanford or UCLA to become bowl eligible for the second time since 2011.

They’ll have to be better than they were against the pesky Beavers.

Oregon State trailed 17-7 early in the first half but closed within 23-20 on Thomas Tyner’s 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

After an unsportsmanlike penalty by the Beavers on the ensuing kickoff put the ball at Cal’s 41, Bowers completed two passes and Laird had an 18-yard run before Bowers found Veasy in the right corner of the end zone for the score.

Bowers finished 24 of 30 on a day when the Bears did not punt once for the sixth time in school history and the first since doing it against USC in 2004.

Vic Enwere’s 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter helped extend Cal’s lead to 37-20.

Anderson made four extra points and converted kicks from 45, 49 and 31 yards to move past Doug Brien on the Bears career scoring list.

Darell Garretson threw for 169 yards for Oregon State (1-8, 0-6). The Beavers were coming off consecutive close losses to Colorado and No. 18 Stanford but were outgained 475-299 by the Bears.

THE TAKEAWAY

Oregon State: The Beavers defense, which kept things close in the third quarter, couldn’t sustain the momentum over the final 15 minutes. Still, it’s another step in the right direction for a team that had been so bad earlier in the season. Losing cornerback Kyle White and linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu, both of whom were ejected for targeting, didn’t help.

Cal: A loss would have severely hampered the Bears’ bowl hopes, so credit Cal for keeping focused against a team it easily could have overlooked. Laird’s strong running was a good sign for the ground game. He is the first Bears running back to top 200 yards since Jahvid Best put up 311 against Washington in 2008.

UP NEXT

Oregon State: The Beavers will go for their fifth win in their last six games against Arizona when the two teams play in Tucson on Nov. 11.

Cal: Plays at No. 18 Stanford on Nov. 18 in Palo Alto. The Bears have lost seven in a row to their Bay Area rivals.