BERKELEY — About the only thing Cal can feel good about was the final result and the play of former walk-on Patrick Laird.
Everything else needed a lot of work.
Laird ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns to help the Golden Bears overcome a lackluster performance with a late rally to beat lower-level Weber State 33-20 on Saturday.
“That level of play is going to get us beat later on during the season,” linebacker Raymond Davison said. “Great for the win but we have to pick it up.”
Coach Justin Wilcox’s home debut for Cal (2-0) almost turned into a disaster as Weber State (1-1) of the FCS led by three points heading into the fourth quarter thanks to repeated breakdowns in the secondary that helped Stefan Cantwell throw for 431 yards.
“We like our secondary and we didn’t play well in the secondary,” Wilcox said. “Just unacceptable how we played there.”
But after Matt Anderson tied the game with a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth, Laird took over. He carried five times on a seven-play drive following a fumble by Andrew Vollert near midfield and gave the Bears a 27-20 lead with a 1-yard run.
The Bears then got a key stop when halfback Kevin Smith barely overthrew Cantwell on a trick play that was nearly a touchdown and then Cantwell threw incompletions on third and fourth down from the 13.
“A lot of plays were there that we just missed opportunities for,” coach Jay Hill said. “I think those were the mistakes that we made, just missed opportunities that we could have had.”
Laird iced the game three plays later with a 73-yard run for his second long TD of the game. He scored on a 51-yard run in the first half as he picked up the load after Tre Watson left early with an injury.
“Pat’s really done that since we’ve been here,” Wilcox said. “He’s a really steady guy. ... It was great to see him make some of those plays. I’m happy for Pat.”
Cal: After an impressive debut under Wilcox that led to a 35-30 road win at North Carolina, the Bears struggled in their home opener. The secondary left receivers open downfield and Ross Bowers wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in his four-TD performance a week ago. He was held to 200 yards passing and took three key sacks.