Berkeley, Calif. - California stole a win from Oregon, 52-49, on Friday night from California Memorial Stadium. The Ducks (2-5) fought valiantly against the Golden Bears (4-3). The two starting quarterbacks in this game accounted for 12 total scores.
Oregon true freshman Justin Herbert threw six touchdown passes. His lone turnover of the night ended Oregon’s hope of winning their first conference game though.
“It’s tough. Just tough how the guys battled,” said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich. “Battled back, put themselves in that position.”
Herbert completed 22 of 40 passes for 258 yards and six touchdowns. His impressive showing shouldn’t be judged by one play in overtime. But, you know the mainstream media.
“I just didn’t see the linebacker. He got under it and made a good play,” Herbert stated.
A Matt Anderson field goal gave Cal the lead, 52-49, to begin the second overtime. Two plays later, Herbert was intercepted. The lone turnover of the game led to Oregon’s first 5-game losing streak since 1996.
Cal quarterback Davis Webb matched Herbert with six total touchdowns. The senior completed 42 of 61 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns. He also scored a rushing TD late in the contest. It was the second straight game the Oregon defense allowed six total touchdowns or more to an opposing QB.
“Love ‘em. They competed their butts off,” Helfrich said. “That makes it that much harder. They competed their butts off a bunch of times the last couple weeks. Could have splintered, could have wavered, could have fallen apart but they didn’t.”
Webb would not be denied following the Ducks OT score. Cal needed just five plays to travel 25 yards for the tying score, 49-49, in the first overtime. It was his lone rushing score of the day.
The Ducks wasted little time in the extended period. Jalen Brown caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Herbert on the second play of overtime. It was just Oregon’s second lead of the evening, 49-42.
Charles Nelson can change a game in seconds. He illustrated that point with the Ducks trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter. The true freshman found Nelson for the 42-yard connection. Herbert’s fifth TD pass of the game tied the contest, 42-42, with 3:15 remaining.
Midway through the second quarter, the Bears were cruising 21-0 against the Ducks. Cal running backs Tre Watson and Khalfani Muhammad were shredding the defense at will. The “here we go again” feeling began to bubble at the surface. But then, something clicked for Oregon.
Fast forward to 13:23 left in the fourth quarter. Nelson inhaled a frozen rope in the end zone from Herbert. Oregon needed 11 plays to travel 44 yards in 2:39 for the go-ahead score, 35-34. It was the Ducks first lead since the Colorado game (38-33 lead) in late September.
“We got a lot better in the second half,” Helfrich stated. “We put ourselves in position to win the game.”
The Ducks scored 21 straight points for the lead. Yet, the short-lived advantage lasted just under four minutes. Webb drove Cal down the field almost immediately. The drive concluded on a marvelous catch in the end zone by Watson, 42-35.
Berkeley’s team endured most of their success on the shoulders of Webb. The senior threw four touchdowns in the first half. Cal entered the locker room at halftime leading Oregon, 31-17.
They extended their halftime lead to 34-14 in the third quarter. Yet, that is when the momentum shifted in Oregon’s favor.
“Slowing down and taking every play by itself,” said Herbert in reference to his comfort level in second half. “Having a plan each play. Fortunately, we got back into it.”
Evan Baylis snagged his first TD of the season after a 1-yard pass from Herbert. The score cut the Duck deficit to 13 points, 34-21.
Two minutes later, Johnny Mundt caught a 12-yard TD toss. Oregon inched within a touchdown, 34-28, by the end of the third period.
“A ton of support for him in the locker room,” Helfrich said of Herbert. “Already you can see guys rally around him. He’s obviously very hard on himself.”
Tony Brooks-James led the rushing attack with 109 yards on 15 carries. He registered his sixth score of the season with a 1-yard dive in the second quarter.
Nelson led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 84 yards and his two touchdowns.
Pharaoh Brown caught three balls for 53 yards and a touchdown. His score was the first of game for Oregon. The 27-yard delivery from Herbert was his first of six TD’s and only one in the first half.
Cal’s Watson rushed the ball 28 times for 154 yards. He also had four catches for 44 yards and two TD’s. His teammate Muhammad rushed for 148 yards on 23 carries.
Oregon (2-5) will have an extra day of rest to prepare for Arizona State (5-2) next weekend. The Sun Devils will be visiting Autzen Stadium for the Saturday, October 29 contest. ASU possesses one of the best rushing attack’s in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, the Ducks are one of the nation’s worst rush defenses.
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