Allen Makes Memorable Debut in Cal Victory Over Aggies

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Keenan Allen's lifelong football mantra has been to go toward the green grass.

On Saturday, he found it twice.

The wide receiver very nearly set a new Cal football record for receiving yards by a freshman as the Bears rolled over UC Davis 52-3 in their season opener at Memorial Stadium.

Allen electrified with his first collegiate touch. On Cal's second possession of the first quarter, quarterback Kevin Riley tossed Allen the ball in the backfield. Allen strong-armed two Aggie defenders for 17 yards and a taste of the five-star recruit's talent the Cal fan base has been longing to see.

His prowess was on full display all day, but he really opened eyes on a broken trick play. Early in the second quarter, Riley handed off to Allen, who dropped back to pass. When he saw his man downfield was covered, Allen took off to the right. Seeing he had no blockers on that side, he came to an almost complete stop and turned left to lope into the endzone, putting the Bears up 21-0.

"That speaks not only to his athletic ability, but to his intelligence as a football player," offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said.

The true freshman hauled in four catches for 120 yards - 10 shy of DeSean Jackson's single-game freshman record - and added 38 more yards on the ground.

Allen wasn't the only receiver to impress on Saturday. Junior Marvin Jones had five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown that came off of a gorgeous ball by Riley - placed between several defenders and caught by Jones as he was inches above the ground. Jones also made a highlight reel catch for 51 yards as an Aggie defender fell all over him.

Again, though, Allen's presence made an impact.

"Coming into this game, I knew (UC Davis) hadn't seen Keenan, so they probably didn't know what he could do," junior wide receiver Marvin Jones said. "He established himself early, so having that guy on the other side of me is glorious. I can't put into words how appreciative and happy I am."

The man throwing to Allen and Jones was no slouch either. Much has been made of Riley's new-found confidence over the offseason, and it appeared to pay dividends today, even if it was against a diminutive opponent. Riley didn't toss an incompletion until the second quarter and finished the day 14-of-20 with three touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.

"I've been in games where I've been real disappointed with how we played and games were I felt we gave points away and put the ball on the ground," Aggies coach Bob Biggs said. "But it wasn't that kind of game. They were better."

The Cal defense, which has also been the subject of much offseason speculation, held the Aggies to 81 total yards of offense and four first downs.

The last time the Bears kept an opponent to less than 150 yards was in 1994.

"That was one our goals going in, not to give up any points," senior linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "It hurt a little bit (to give up the field goal). But our goal changed to no touchdowns."

And that goal they realized.


Katie Dowd covers football. Contact her at [email protected]

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