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Nevada spoils Cal's party with 31-24 victory

Associated Press Modified: September 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm •  Published: September 1, 2012
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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Cody Fajardo, Stefphon Jefferson and the Nevada Wolf Pack spoiled California's stadium reopening party.

Jefferson ran for 145 yards and scored his third touchdown with 36 seconds remaining Saturday as Nevada beat California 31-24 in the first game in 21 months at Memorial Stadium.

"Good teams find a way to try and overcome adversity," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "I'm not saying we're a good team at this particular time, but we did overcome some adversity.

Fajardo completed 25 of 32 passes for 230 yards and added 97 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Wolf Pack (1-0), who put a damper on what was supposed to be a celebratory day for the Golden Bears.

Fajardo engineered the winning drive by throw a 14-yard pass to Zach Sudfeld on third-and-4 from the Cal 38 and a 19-yarder to Brandon Wimberly that set up Jefferson's winning score.

"It was dreamlike," Fajardo said. "You can only think about having the ball with two minutes left and driving down and scoring. You can only dream of that, and it became a reality for us."

It was especially sweet for Wimberly, who missed all of last season recovering from a bullet wound to his stomach.

"It's a long road. This is game one," he said. "A year ago, there was no way I was going to play a football game."

Quarterback Zach Maynard returned after being benched for the first three series as punishment for missing a tutoring session earlier this summer to throw for 247 yards and two touchdowns for Cal (0-1).

But he also lost a fumble deep in Nevada territory in the fourth quarter as the Bears lost at home to Nevada for the second time in 25 tries and first since 1903.

"I told everybody to keep their heads up," Maynard said. "Everybody is pretty down. We worked so hard to get this far. To come home and get a loss is pretty tough."

The Wolf Pack had beaten Cal just once before winning 52-31 two years ago at home behind star quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Fajardo was nearly as effective this game. Fajardo helped Nevada break out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and then led three second-half scoring drives to give the Wolf Pack the win.

Cal appeared to seize the momentum in the third quarter when Keenan Allen answered Jefferson's second touchdown run with an elusive 39-yard score on a reverse.

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