Cal’s Jaydn Ott runs for 274 yards and 3 scores as Bears knock out Arizona

Jaydn Ott’s Cal career spans just four games, but he’ll be hard pressed to top the performance he put in against Arizona at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The freshman running back rushed 73 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on the second play of the game and secured the Bears 49-31 win with a 72-yard TD midway through the fourth quarter.

“Every time I touch the ball I feel like I’m going to score,” Ott said. “That’s my mentality.”

Ott’s numbers: 19 carries, 274 yards — the third-best total in school history — and three touchdowns. Only Jahvid Best, with 311 yards against Washington in 2008, and Jerry Drew, with 283 against Oregon State in 1954, had better running days for Cal than Ott against the Wildcats.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said Ott “don’t look back when he comes out in the open. Sometimes guys look back, but… fast guys don’t look back. They’re just going to pass everyone because they’re confident in their speed.

A 6-foot, 205-pounder from Chino (San Bernardino County), Ott combines class-leading speed with the ability to grind for tough yards. The fact that he averaged 14.4 yards per carry caught the eye of Cal quarterback Jack Plummer.

Plummer called it “very good whether you play pee-wee football or play at the top level”.

A lower-body injury kept Cal right guard Spencer Lovell out. This led to several moves on the Bears offensive line. Left tackle Ben Coleman was the only starter to start where he was listed on the depth chart.

“We owe all the credit, all of our success today to the offensive line,” Ott said. “They played their butts. I appreciate them for that. (I) will definitely have to take them out to eat.

Ott’s big day helped the Bears (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) beat the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) for the first time since 2009. Arizona had won all six meetings previous ones.

Plummer also thrived on Saturday. Purdue’s transfer went 18 for 28 for 245 yards and three scores. The Bears have rushed for 599 total yards.

In Cal’s first three games, Plummer was sacked 12 times. The reconfigured offensive line didn’t allow a sack against the Wildcats.

Cal trailed 24-21 at halftime, then took the lead on their first possession of the third quarter.

Freshman Jaydn Ott gained 274 yards on 19 carries in Cal’s 49-31 win over Arizona at Berkeley on Saturday. Here’s a look at the top five running performances in Cal history:

Player

Date

Opponent

yards

jahvid best

06/12/2008

Washington

311

Jerry Drew

11/13/1954

Oregon State

283

Jaydn Ott

09/24/2022

Arizona

274

John Olszewski

10/13/1951

washington state

269

JJ Arrington

04/12/2004

Miss South

261


The Bears had gone from their 13 to Arizona 3 and had a 4th-and-1. Plummer rolled a right and found Keleki Latu wide open in the middle. The Bears were in front to stay.

Ott had electrified the homecoming weekend crowd with that 73-yard bolt. His second TD wasn’t quite as long, but it was almost as electrifying. From the Arizona 18, he propelled the midfield about 8 yards – and kind of kept his feet, broke free from a heap and headed for the end zone. Make it Cal 35, Arizona 24.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Plummer connected on a 37-yard touchdown strike to Jeremiah Hunter and the Bears were up 18.

The Wildcats cut their deficit to 11 on a 14-yard TD connection from Jayden of Laura, a transfer from Washington State, to Jacob Cowing. The Wildcats then moved to Cal 33 on their next possession.

That’s when senior safety Daniel Scott landed a pass from Laura. This set up Ott’s third – and decisive – TD run. It started to his left, cut to the right, then burst in the middle and was gone.

“When I see the green, man, when I see the end zone, I take off,” Ott said. “I know I will score.”

Briefly: Cal has won six straight at Memorial since losing 21-6 to Washington State and Laura on Oct. 2. … The Bears defense allowed 24 points and 329 yards in the first half without forcing a turnover. In the second half, the Bears gave up seven points and 207 yards and took three turnovers (a recovered fumble and two interceptions.)… Cal faces the Cougars at Pullman next Saturday. WSU fell to 3-1 as No. 15 Oregon overcame a 12-point deficit in the final four minutes to edge the Cougars 44-41.

Steve Kroner is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @SteveKronerSF

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