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Cal defeated Navy 57-15 at Witter Field in Berkeley, Calif. Saturday to advance to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. For the third consecutive year, Cal will take on BYU in the title match.
The Golden Bears opened scoring in the sixth minute with a try from Harry Adolphus. Navy added a penalty, but Cal then outflanked the Navy defense, and with a great individual effort from Miles Honens, scored a try in the corner. Honens stepped several Navy defenders en route to a 50-meter try down the left sideline.
Navy battled its way back into the game but was unable to put up any more points in the first half. Around the 25th minute, Cade Pope broke through the Cal line, and if not for a try-saving tackle from Jake Anderson, would have scored. Anderson, however, was called for a high tackle and sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
The visitors probed the Cal line, but staunch defense kept them out. Cal was able to clear the ball to safety and prevent Navy from scoring during the man advantage. The Golden Bears moved down the field, and despite being down a man, were able to add three points with a Russell Webb drop goal. Cal added three more with a penalty from Anderson right before halftime to take a 16-3 lead into the break.
Navy charged back with a try immediately following halftime. Justin Manke zipped down the left sideline to cut the Cal lead to one score. Cal immediately applied pressure, however, forcing a poor kick from the Navy 22. Webb fielded the ball, broke through the Navy line, and found Alec Gletzer to give Cal a 21-10 lead.
Gletzer was phenomenal all afternoon and particularly disruptive at the breakdown. The senior forced a number of turnovers in critical moments. Gletzer, nonetheless, was a bit modest about his performance and gave credit to Navy for forcing his team to work incredibly hard.
“We got the job done to earn another shot at the final,” said the co-captain. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect, but Navy deserves credit for that.”
After the Gletzer try Navy began to falter, and Cal punished the Midshipmen. Anthony Salabar dotted down twice in five minutes to extend the lead to 33-10. Navy Coach Mike Flanagan praised Cal’s execution.
“Fundamentally sound all the time,” he said of the Bears. “You’d better not make mistakes, because they will capitalize.”
Dakota Raymond answered back with another try for Navy, but it was all Cal after that point. In the final 20 minutes, Cal added four more tries, with two coming from Nicholas Boyer. The Golden Bears earned the victory by the final score of 57-15.
Cal coach Jack Clark indicated that the large score was a little misleading of the Navy performance. “Nothing but respect for Navy, they were very difficult,” he said. “It was a good match. They’re a bunch of stud guys.”
Cal will take on BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium at 4 p.m. ET May 2nd to determine the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup champion. The game will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network.