BERKELEY, Calif. — Michael Penix Jr. threw a go-ahead 14-yard touchdown pass to Jalen McMillan early in the fourth quarter to lead Washington past California 28-21 on Saturday night.
Penix threw for 374 yards and two TDs for his eighth straight 300-yard passing game to help the Huskies (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) win their first road game of the season. Washington also became bowl eligible after winning only four games last season.
“It’s amazing, but at the same time we’re not finished yet,” Penix said. “We still got a lot more we want to accomplish. ... It’s good to know that but at the same time that’s not our focus right now.”
Jack Plummer threw three touchdown passes in the second half for the Golden Bears (3-4, 1-3). But it wasn’t enough to prevent Cal from losing its third straight game.
“I think this team can beat anybody,” receiver J. Michael Sturdivant said. “This is a game I think we let slip away.”
Penix led Washington on three straight TD drives in the second half. He found McMillan wide open in the front of the end zone to give the Huskies the lead for good and added a 36-yarder to Richard Newtown on another third-down pass later in the fourth to make it 28-14.
Penix leads the nation with 2,934 yards passing this season and has thrown no interceptions on 95 passes the last two weeks.
“Just super consistent,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “Everyone knows what they get with with him. He can make all the throws and taking care of the football. There really isn’t a time where you feel like there’s too big of a risk when he throws the ball.”
Plummer, who threw two TD passes to Sturdivant in the third quarter, got Cal within 28-21 with an 8-yard strike to Mavin Anderson on fourth down with 6:11 to play.
But Cal failed to get a first down on its final two drives and came up short at the end.
Washington completely dominated the first half everywhere but the scoreboard. The Huskies outgained the Bears 245-83 in the half, didn’t allow Cal to cross midfield for more than 27 minutes but only lead 6-0 at the break.
Washington settled for field goals on its first two drives and then Peyton Henry missed a 34-yarder after an offensive pass interference spoiled a goal-to-go situation.
But the Huskies got going in the second half on offense.
“The first half was good. The second half have to clean stuff up,” said Cal linebacker Jackson Sirmon, who transferred from Washington. “They had some big plays, we had some busts and we missed some tackles. We have to find a way to do better in the second half.”
Washington: After allowing 124 points the past three games, the Huskies delivered a stronger defensive effort this time to get their first road win since beating Stanford on Oct. 30, 2021. Washington is 6-2 for the first time since 2018 and is poised to play in a bowl game for the first time since the 2019 season.
California: A season that had promise in September has become another frustrating one for the Bears, who have lost all three games in October. This marks the 14th straight season they have lost at least three straight Pac-12 games.
Former Cal great Marshawn Lynch was honored at the game for his induction into the California Athletics Hall of Fame. Lynch fired up the crowd by taking a celebratory ride in the back of a cart around the field before the start of the second half. Sixteen years ago this weekend, Lynch took a memorable drive around the field in a cart after scoring the winning TD against Washington.
Washington: Hosts Oregon State on Nov. 4.
California: Hosts No. 10 Oregon on Saturday.
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