OXFORD, Miss. – California linebacker Evan Weaver finished with 22 tackles Saturday against Mississippi. The last one was the most important.
Weaver tackled Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee for no gain at the 1-yard line as time expired to preserve No. 23 Cal’s 28-20 victory over the Rebels. Weaver crashed hard from the right flank, wrapped up Plumlee and stopped his progress as help arrived to finish the play.
“Just stop the guy with the ball. Keep him from crossing the white stripe,” Weaver said. “We got some push in the middle and put it in them.”
Cal coach Justin Wilcox, whose team is 4-0 for the first time since 2015, was not surprised. Weaver led every statistical category defensively for the Golden Bears, who let a late 28-13 cushion nearly disappear in the final six minutes.
“Weaver has 22 tackles. When was the last time we didn’t talk about what a great player he is? He produces every week,” Wilcox said. “He’s a really good player. We’re proud of him.”
The last-minute heroics almost overshadowed a brilliant performance from Chase Garbers, who threw for four touchdowns and finished 23 of 35 for 357 yards. Touchdown passes of 9 and 60 yards to Jordan Duncan and Jake Tonges on the opening two possessions of the second half preserved a lead Cal never surrendered.
“Chase was awesome. It’s not even close. That’s the best game he has played,” Wilcox said. “The receivers did a really nice job. I was impressed how Chase looked so comfortable. He was really confident out there.”
Cal finished with 433 yards of total offense, including first-half touchdown passes by Garbers of 6 and 13 yards by Trevon Clark and Christopher Brown Jr. The Golden Bears were efficient offensively, managing 6 of 12 in third-down situations and 3 of 3 in the red zone, capped by touchdowns.
The Rebels (2-2, 1-0 SEC) got strong performances from quarterbacks Matt Corral and Plumlee, who led the final two possessions. Corral had a 1-yard scoring run and was 22 of 41 passing for 266 yards before leaving with a rib injury. The Rebels had 525 yards of total offense but failed on two scoring opportunities with missed field goals.
Plumlee was 7 of 7 for 82 yards in the final six minutes. Jerrion Early scored on a 15-yard run with 4:29 left to cap Plumlee’s first series. The Rebels went 89 yards in 10 plays in the final 2:45, finished by the defensive play from Weaver.
“We had a great opportunity today, but we just didn’t make enough plays to win the game,” Mississippi coach Matt Luke said. “Matt did well but we’ve got to look at the rib injury. John Rhys made the most of his opportunity.”