BERKELEY, Calif. – Mac Dre attained prominence as a rapper here in the late 1980s, before Washington Huskies football players and Northern California natives Shaq Thompson and DiAndre Campbell were born.
They were kids when Mac Dre released “Thizzle Dance,” a popular song still played at drinking establishments and house parties, but you could hear it for a brief moment on Saturday at California Memorial Stadium, Campbell and Thompson and the rest of their Huskies’ teammates dancing, shouting and shaking the walls of the visitors locker room while the Bay Area rap hit blared after a 31-7 victory over the California Golden Bears.
And this win should ring out pretty loudly, too, after the Huskies (5-1, 1-1 in Pac-12) dominated a Cal team (4-2, 2-2) that had thus far emerged as one of college football’s biggest surprises, playing its way into first place in the Pac-12 North with gaudy offensive numbers.
“To come in here and hold them to seven points,” coach Chris Petersen said, “yeah, I didn’t think that would happen.”
Thompson, a Sacramento native, said “20-something” family members were among the 44,449 who witnessed his 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter, changing the complexion of a game the Huskies controlled thereafter.
Campbell, who played high-school ball less than four miles away at Oakland Tech, later caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cyler Miles as part of UW’s 28-point first half.
Afterward, they wanted to celebrate loud enough for everyone to hear.
“It was nothing but a party,” Campbell said. “The best thing when you go on the road is the silence of the crowd. We definitely had that silence. So it was great.”
Facing a team that had scored 164 points in its previous three games and is averaging 50 points per game this season, the Huskies were apparently irritated by what Thompson described as media speculation that Cal might win big.
“We heard some stuff in the media about them talking about (how) it’s a good game to get their young guys in,” said Thompson, a junior linebacker who has now scored five touchdowns this season. “So we took that to heart, and we came out here and put a chip on our shoulder. Every game they’ve scored 50-plus points, and we knew we had to hold them. So that’s what we did.”
Indeed, the Huskies limited Cal’s high-scoring offense to 368 yards – and just 4.4 yards per play – while forcing three turnovers and scoring 17 points off those takeaways.
None was bigger than the first. Cal sliced through UW’s defense with ease on its second possession, positioned with a 2nd-and-goal inside the Huskies’ 1-yard line.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff took a snap, surged forward and tried to extend the ball across the goal line, but it came loose, Thompson snagged it, then ran 100 yards up the right sideline for the longest returned fumble in school history.
Instead of trailing 7-0, the Huskies led by that margin. And after they forced another fumble and recovered it at Cal’s 25-yard line, quarterback Cyler Miles threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joshua Perkins to put the Huskies ahead by two scores.
They never relented. It was 21-0 after Miles’ 11-yard toss to Campbell, and 28-0 after Miles threw a quick screen to sophomore receiver John Ross, who shook a tackle and sprinted past everyone else for an 86-yard touchdown with 1:29 left in the first half.
“He makes my job easy,” Miles said. “All I’ve got to do is put an accurate ball on him, and he’s out the gate. All credit to Ross.”
It was over after that. Cal didn’t score until 4:21 remained in the third quarter. Goff was consistently pressured and was sacked four times, three of them by Hau’oli Kikaha, who now leads the nation with 10. And Miles and UW’s offense rebounded from a rough game two weeks ago against Stanford, Miles completing 22-of-29 passes for 273 yards, three touchdowns and, again, no interceptions.
“We’re really proud of Cyler,” Petersen said. “For the last two weeks, since that Stanford game, he’s been studying, he’s been working hard. And really all these guys, you can tell, they came to work every day.”
Now it’s back to work in preparation for No. 12 Oregon. The Huskies visit the Ducks, whom they have not defeated since 2003, next week.
“I just feel like it gives us momentum, and it keeps us hungry, especially going into Oregon,” Ross said of the win over Cal. “They’ve got a tough stadium, they’re a tough team. I just feel like we’ve got momentum going in. It makes us more hungry.”
Even after eating Cal alive.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple