BERKELEY — Cal coach Justin Wilcox was slowed by having to use crutches on the sideline but Sacramento State had no way of putting the brakes on the Bears offense in a 42-30 victory by the home team in front of 31,982 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bears won for the first time after losses to Nevada and TCU. Cal opens Pac-12 play next Saturday at Washington.
Wilcox was hobbled after undergoing surgery on Tuesday for a previous injury that recently became aggravated.
His limitations didn’t impact the Cal offense, led by Chase Garbers with two touchdown passes and a scoring run, and Damien Moore, who ran for two TDs. Cal enjoyed its highest-scoring game since a 49-7 win over Oregon State on Oct. 20, 2018.
The outcome was never really in question after senior Nikko Remigio returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards, pushing Cal’s lead to 28-6.
Still, the Bears struggled at times dealing with the Hornets’ offense. The visiting FCS team, coached by former Cal quarterback Troy Taylor, ran up 467 yards and moved the ball at least to the Bears’ 25-yard line on eight possessions.
The Hornets would have kept the game closer except for two short field goal misses in the second quarter.
Garbers, who finished with 288 passing yards, completed his first 11 passes and Cal led 21-6 at halftime after his 45-yard TD strike to Jeremiah Hunter with 4:01 left in the second quarter.
Moore scored on a pair of 4-yard runs to cap drives of 85 and 69 yards as the Bears scored on their first two possessions of the game.
The Hornets scored between those Cal TDs, with quarterback Asher O’Hara leaping into the end zone at the end of a 7-yard keeper with 5:35 left in the quarter. But Sac State’s trick-play try for two points failed.
Cal played without two injured starters — outside linebacker Kuony Deng and wide receiver Kekoa Crawford.