BERKELEY, Calif. -- Ole Miss faced adversity from multiple angles on Saturday night, and fell short in the second half in a 27-16 loss to Cal.
"The penalties and just the lack of ryhthm really hurt us on offense," head coach Matt Luke said. "We have been through a lot together. I think the important part is facing adversity and seeing what happens. We are not going to do it alone. We are going to do it together."
Nothing came easy for the Rebels in California after a fast start.
Shea Patterson and the offense marched the football down the field on the team's opening possession and settled for a Gary Wunderlich field goal. The senior kicker injured his hamstring shortly after and would not return to the game after missing an extra point later in the half.
Two drives later, Cal cashed in on a Patterson interception and took a 7-3 lead. That evaporated in the blink of an eye after Patterson found DaMarkus Lodge for a 72-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the ensuing drive. It was the first of two long touchdown passes as Patterson hit D.K. Metcalf in stride for a 71-yard score in the second quarter that pushed the Rebels' lead to 16-7.
C.J. Moore had two interceptions in the second quarter that kept Cal off of the scoreboard and gave the Rebels a 16-7 heading into the half.
The third quarter was not kind to Ole Miss as Cal outscored the Rebels 10-0 and took a 17-16 lead highlighted by a Josh Bowers 23-yard touchdown pass to Nick Wharton III on the Bears' opening possession of the half.
Penalties thwarted Ole Miss' momentum for much of the night, but particularly in the third quarter. The team was penalized 16 times for 113 yards in the game.
"I think the offense as a whole, we expect to perform better," Luke said. "The penalties and the drops and all of that causes you not to have a rhythm."
A bulk of the penalties were shouldered by the offensive line, who had to shift around after it lost veteran center Sean Rawlings to an ankle sprain in the first half. Luke did not know how long he will be out, but anticipated it being a couple of weeks.
"Sean is very important," Luke said. "Injuries are part of football. The next guy has to step up and be ready to go.
Patterson was flushed out of the pocket often and was forced to try to extend plays with his feet. The offense sputtered for much of the second half as a result. The Rebels mustered just 131 yards in the second half. Cal had 201 by comparison.
"Early on the second half they were bailing and the linebackers were sitting on stuff," Patterson said. "Their defense played very well in the second half."
Ole Miss had one final shot after Cal added a late fourth quarter field goal to go ahead 20-16; however, Patterson was picked off by Cameron Goode who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to preserve the win for Cal. Patterson was intercepted three times on the night and it equated to 14 points for the Bears. He threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Only 53 of the Rebels' yards came by way of the ground. Cal rushed for 163 yards on the night and quarterback Ross Bowers threw for 236 yards and a score.
It was Ole Miss' first loss of the season. The Rebels have an off week before traveling to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama in two weeks.
"We've just got to rebound and get back into the flow of things tomorrow," Patterson said. "We have two weeks to prepare for the best team in the country so we are just looking forward to that."