SEATTLE — It took until early Sunday morning before California could run onto the field in celebration, party with the few Golden Bears fans still hanging around and enjoy another victory over Washington.
Greg Thomas kicked a 17-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, and California beat No. 14 Washington 20-19 in a game delayed more than 2½ hours due to severe weather.
The Pac-12 Conference opener for the schools ended up being a strange night on the shore of Lake Washington, capped by Thomas' short field goal, giving the Golden Bears (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) the shocking victory.
A severe thunder and lightning storm delayed the game early in the first quarter and left only a smattering of fans waiting out the lengthy delay when the game resumed at 10:30 p.m. and finally ended at 1:22 a.m.
It was only the Bears' fans cheering in a corner of the mostly empty stadium when the clock hit zero after knocking off the Huskies for the second straight year.
"I'm really proud of the team because it wasn't the cleanest, but they just keep fighting and they're a tough bunch of guys," Cal coach Justin Wilcox said.
California quarterback Chase Garbers wasn't asked to do much with his arm, but came up with two big completions on the final drive, hitting Jordan Duncan for 19 yards and Kekoa Crawford for 27 yards to get inside the Washington 5. The Bears were aided by a pass interference call and, after forcing Washington to call three timeouts, Thomas connected on a field goal shorter than an extra point.
"It's like a dream come true, basically. It's like what you ask for as a kicker, last kick comes down to you and you make it," Thomas said
Washington (1-1, 0-1) took a 19-17 lead with 2:05 left when Peyton Henry hit a career-best 49-yard field goal that sneaked inside the right upright. It was the last of Henry's four field goals, two of which came inside 25 yards.
"Certainly kicking too many field goals isn't going to get it done for us. That was frustrating. Really frustrating," Washington coach Chris Petersen said.
Garbers was 11 of 18 for 111 yards passing, but it was California's run game that controlled the night. Marcel Dancy ran for 72 yards and a pair of third-quarter touchdowns of 20 and 8 yards, and Christopher Brown Jr. added 80 yards rushing.
Dancy spun his way through several tackles and scored on a 20-yard run just as midnight approached, pulling the Bears even at 10-10 early in the third quarter. It was Cal's first offensive touchdown against the Huskies since the 2016 game, after scoring only defensive touchdowns in the past two meetings.
His 8-yard TD gave the Bears a 17-13 lead going to the fourth quarter. The Bears rushed for 124 yards in the third quarter alone after having just 90 yards total offense in the first half.
After a terrific debut a week ago, Washington quarterback Jacob Eason was 18 of 30 passing for 162 yards, one interception and a fumble lost. And the Huskies left points on the board. Washington had a chance to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter after a 16-play drive to the Cal 2 where it faced fourth-and-1. But Washington was called for a false start and settled for Henry's third field goal of the game, this time from 25-yard to cut the deficit to 17-16 with 7:10 left.
That was Washington's last chance at finding the end zone. Washington's Salvon Ahmed rushed for 119 yards and the Huskies' only touchdown.
"We've got to execute better down there. Same old situation," Petersen said.
EASON'S SECOND ACT
Eason found life against California much more difficult than the opener against Eastern Washington. After throwing for 349 yards and four touchdowns against the FCS school, Eason was flustered, flushed and forced into mistakes. He threw his first interception. He had another turnover on a sack and fumble. He was a bit late with a throw to Andre Baccellia in the end zone and missed a chance at a touchdown that would have given the Huskies a seven-point lead in the first half.
The teams played 5 minutes, 14 seconds of the first quarter before suddenly being brought to a halt shortly before 8 p.m. Severe thunderstorms and lightning were moving from the south toward the Seattle metro area. Teams cleared the field and fans sitting in metal bleacher sections of Husky Stadium were encouraged to seek shelter.
The warning was accurate.
The storms moved swiftly into the area. Within minutes of the delay, lightning was flashing in the sky. Fans were removed from the open bleachers of the stadium and huddled under cover or in the concourses of the stadium. Thousands made their way to the parking lots surrounding Husky Stadium and resumed tailgating, although many just got in their vehicles and headed home with the already late kickoff.
As the rain picked up in intensity, the sky was a continual flash as lightning was constant throughout the area.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Petersen grabbed a stadium microphone and announced the game was resuming.
"The key in those things is you don't want them falling asleep and you don't want them banging their heads on the locker for two hours," Wilcox said. "You just stay in that zone and they did. We were fine."