Berkeley, Calif. - With seven full lineup changes from the team that defeated Arizona two days earlier, No. 2-ranked California recorded its seventh shutout of the spring season Monday night against No. 7 Penn State, piling 15 tries on the Nittany Lions for a 100-0 victory on Witter Rugby Field.
Nine players scored for the Golden Bears, led by five tries by winger Josh Tucker and pairs from fullback Jake Anderson and Danny Barrett, who made his second start of the season at lock.
Penn State's best chance to score may have come in the 18th minute, when its attack at the Bears five-meter line was short-circuited by an untimely knock-on by Nittany Lions inside center Greg Voigt.
Voigt and No. 8 Mike Erickson were teammates of Bears outside center Seamus Kelly at Xavier High School in New York City. Now Cal's captain, Kelly called it "a great experience to play that team with my old teammates. It means a lot to all of us that they came out here on tour."
Kelly added that although Monday night's performance "was a big step forward in energy and relentlessness" for the team, the loss of a second valuable back in two matches has stricken the team with a potential season-ending injury to wing Anthony Lombardo.
"He's given everything to this program and one of the best finishers in the country," Kelly said. "It's another big blow, but again, we have full confidence in the rest of our guys to step up in his absence."
The Cal forwards could leave Monday's match knowing they had more than matched Penn State's physicality. "We struggled at times but overall we played really physical, which is something we set out to do," said lock Brendan Daly. "We knew they had a physical pack and I think especially around the breakdown we did quite well."
For Penn State, perspective was paramount. "We know the reputation and the caliber of Cal," said head coach Don Ferrell, whose Nittany Lions fell to 3-2 on the season. "We aspire to play like them and the only way to do that is to play them. They play at pace with passion and great skills."
"It was an honor for us to have the Nittany Lions in Strawberry Canyon," said Bears head coach Jack Clark. "Penn State is a well-coached, big, physical team. They will be one of the last teams standing in the USA Rugby DI-A postseason."
The Bears, who improve 14-0 overall (3-0 in the PAC Rugby Conference), conclude their three-match homestand on Wednesday night, March 4, under the lights on Witter Rugby Field with the first-ever meeting between the Bears and the Dukes from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. The Dukes, who arrived in California with an 0-1 record after their 26-19 season-opening loss to Maryland, are coached by Mark Lambourne, who played for both Clark and Ned Anderson at Cal.
Next Saturday, March 9, the Bears resume their PAC Rugby Conference at Oregon State, then go back on the road to finish the "World Cup" series against UBC in Vancouver March 24 before returning to Witter Rugby Field to celebrate Homecoming as they host Utah at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 30.