A 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Payton Thorne to tight end Rivaldo Fairweather with 6:31 to go in the game sparked Auburn to a hard-fought 14-10 comeback win over Cal on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.
The Bears (1-1) had a chance to take the lead with 1:44 to play at the Auburn 18-yard line facing a fourth-and-13, but Cal quarterback Sam Jackson V was intercepted by cornerback D.J. James in the end zone.
Thorne was confused by the Bears defense for most of the game but made plays when it counted and finished 9 of 14 passing for 94 yards and two touchdowns despite throwing an interception and losing a fumble.
Jarquez Hunter had a team-high 53 yards rushing on 11 carries for Auburn. Damari Alston also added 51 yards on the ground.
Fairweather led the Tigers (2-0) with three receptions for 39 yards and a score. Linebacker Eugene Asante had 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack for a stingy Auburn defense.
Cal tailback Jaydn Ott rushed 20 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, but left the game with 5:57 to go in the third quarter after he was banged up attempting to hurdle an Auburn defender.
Ben Finley got the start at quarterback for the Bears, but Jackson entered the game in the second quarter and provided a spark. Jackson finished 14 of 27 for 126 yards and two interceptions.
Cal’s defense forced three turnovers in the first half (two fumbles, one interception) but couldn’t hold off a fourth-quarter surge by the Tigers.
Bears kicker Michael Luckhurst made his first field-goal attempt, but missed his next three and finished 1 of 4 on field-goal attempts.
The Bears jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on a 39-yard field goal by Luckhurst following a fumble by Thorne on Auburn’s opening possession. Linebacker Kaleb Elarms-Orr forced the fumble and linebacker Jackson Sirmon appeared to return it for a touchdown, but the official blew the play dead and the TD was taken off the board after review.
Auburn grabbed a 7-3 lead with 11:50 to go in the second quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Thorne to Jay Fair on third-and-6. The play was set up by a forced fumble and recovery by safety Donovan Kaufman on Cal running back Isaiah Ifanse deep in Bears territory.
An Ott 14-yard scoring run put Cal back on top, 10-7, with 4:47 to go until halftime following a fumble by Alston at the Bears 35-yard line. Jackson sparked the six-play, 65-yard scoring drive after he entered the game in place of Finley.