EVANSTON, Ill. -- In his college football debut, Cal freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer threw his first interception since the opening game of his high school senior season.
The rest of the day went pretty well for the Scottsdale, Arizona, native.
Rubenzer, who played 16 snaps as a running counter to starter Jared Goff, kept the ball 11 times for 48 yards, three times picking up first downs. He was the game's leading rusher as the Bears beat Northwestern 31-24.
"It felt good. It's different going against your own guys, every single day," Rubenzer said. "They're seeing the exact same plays, every single day, so when you do run it against an opponent, it actually is more open."
It was against the Wildcats, who were surprised by the Bears' tactic.
"The two-quarterback thing was something that we had no idea, since that was the first time they've done that," NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "It was a great plan for them."
Rubenzer was 2 for 5 for 19 yards passing, and threw an interception. Last fall, at Saguaro High, he was picked off three times in his team's first game, then never again.
"I was just trying to throw it out of bounds, just a terrible out-of-bounds pass. I had a whole stadium to throw to, and I threw it to the one guy," Rubenzer said. "Hopefully, I'll get them all out (in) the first game, like I did last year."
Rubenzer got plenty of reps with the first team during fall camp, but coach Sonny Dykes said several times he didn't expect the freshman to play against the Wildcats. Even now, Dykes said he isn't sure what kind of mix he'll employ going forward.
But he was pleased by what Rubenzer provided the offense.
"He gave us something a little bit different, and we felt like that was going to be an advantage going into this ballgame. Something they probably weren't going to prepare for," Dykes said.
NU safety Traveon Henry was impressed. "No. 8 did a great job of executing," he said. "He really stepped up and fulfilled his role. He played a great game."
"Everything that could happen bad to a group of young men has happened," he said. "I mean, they've been through everything they could go through, and they've been just incredibly classy. Just represented this university, I've just been so proud of them, just what they've done from getting the academics corrected to just their character, and their work ethic and persevering to losing a teammate.
"I'm really proud to see the hard work pay off for them."
Linebacker Jalen Jefferson, who had 16 tackles and an interception that helped clinch the victory, said he felt the presence of Agu, a former defensive end, who died after an offseason training run.
"I told them, right before that interception, I patted my chest, and that's where the Ted patch is," Jefferson said. "I think he won it for us."