BERKELEY -- Cal scored its first victory at renovated Memorial Stadium on Saturday but used a formula that probably won't work the next two weeks on the road against powerhouses Ohio State and USC.
The Golden Bears, plagued in the first half by penalties and mistakes, finally put away Southern Utah 50-31 in a game that couldn't have provided much encouragement to the announced crowd of 57,745 fans.
Cal had won five previous games against Football Championship Subdivision opponents by an average margin of more than 43 points. But the Thunderbirds, playing their first game against a Pac-12 opponent, trailed just 20-17 entering the fourth quarter.
On the heels of a season-opening loss to Nevada, the Bears had to scramble a bit to avoid their first 0-2 start in 11 seasons under coach Jeff Tedford, scoring 30 points in a frenetic fourth quarter.
"Absolutely, too many penalties," said Tedford, whose team had two turnovers and 10 penalties for 96 yards in the first half. "You cannot continue to do that and expect to win close football games."
Ultimately, this one wasn't close. Certainly there is lots for the Bears to clean up before facing No. 14 Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday, followed by No. 2 USC in Los Angeles.
"It's something I've been looking forward to since I saw the schedule," star receiver Keenan Allen said of the Ohio State matchup.
Allen gave the Bears a C-plus grade against Southern Utah. Quarterback Zach Maynard made reference to "head-case situations where we backed ourselves up," and running back Isi Sofele lamented, "We came out and killed ourselves by getting penalties."
When the floodgates finally opened, Southern Utah (0-2) could not keep up. Here's how a crazy span of 71/2 minutes stretched a three-point margin to 27 points:
"I kind of got scared," Allen said of his momentary fumbling of the ball. "Then my eyes lit up and I heard the crowd. It felt good."
Redshirt freshman Daniel Lasco completed the scoring with a 77-yard TD romp with 3:21 left, helping push Cal's rushing yardage total to 289 yards. Sofele, who got just five carries last week against Nevada, ran 19 times for 104 yards.
Maynard finished 17 for 23 for 229 yards with a touchdown, but he had a first-quarter interception and overthrew fullback Eric Stevens on a third-and-goal play from the 1 early in the second period.
Then there were the penalties, 12 in all. An illegal block by Allen wiped out a would-be 56-yard TD reception by freshman Chris Harper late in the first quarter. The Bears also were flagged twice for offsides on kickoffs, a personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct and a pass interference penalty that extended the first half for one critical play.
Cornerback Steve Williams was flagged for interference in the end zone on what would have been the final play of the period, and the Thunderbirds got another chance at the Cal 37.
Quarterback Brad Sorensen heaved the ball to the back of the end zone, where Cameron Morgan outleaped Cal defenders Anthony and Michael Lowe, tipped the ball and caught it while falling to the turf.
Southern Utah had totaled just 46 yards on eight possessions before the highlight-reel TD.
Apparently invigorated, the Thunderbirds marched 75 yards on 12 plays on the opening drive of the third quarter, pulling within 20-17 when Sorensen tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Henna Brown with 8:27 left.
The Bears, to their credit, quit making the critical mistakes that repeatedly hurt them in the first half, when they outgained the visitors 353 yards to 83 but led just 20-10.
Now the Bears look ahead to the Buckeyes, one of college football's most storied programs. Cal has not beaten Ohio State since 1920, losing the past five meetings.
"Coming from the West Coast, some people are probably going to doubt us," Anthony said. "It doesn't bother us at all. We'll kind of use that as fuel to shock everybody. We know we're capable of playing."