Beavers Stomp Bears

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Say what you want about Cal's performance against Oregon State today, but the Bears knew what was coming.

In the week leading up to the game, every Cal defender stressed the importance of stopping running back Steven Jackson, while coach Jeff Tedford and the offensive players feared the Beavers' suffocating pass defense.

Cal (5-4, 2-3 in the Pac-10) got a big, bitter dose of each, and compounded the misery with its own sloppiness in a frustrating 24-13 loss.

OSU (5-3, 1-3) ended its three-game losing streak in emphatic fashion, running the ball down the Bears' throats in the first half, and roughing up an increasingly disjointed Cal offense to hold on for its first Pac-10 win.

Jackson led OSU's first-half rushing barrage, carrying 16 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns to give the Beavers a 21-10 lead at the break.

It was the first time the Bears faced a halftime deficit, and they received a thorough lesson in keeping a lead.

While Cal's defense recovered from its soft first-half performance to hold OSU to three points the rest of the game, the Beavers strangled any chance of a comeback with airtight pass coverage and a disruptive pass rush.

Staff/Krista Osmundson

The game was really decided in the first two quarters, when the Beavers ran roughshod over a Cal defensive unit that held UCLA to 37 yards on the ground the week before.

The Bears got on the board first with a Jensen field goal midway through the first quarter, and managed to trade punches with OSU in the early going, but seemed unable to contain Jackson. The sophomore running back got around the corner at will, and shed would-be tacklers like flies.

"The missed tackles killed us," defensive end Tully Banta-Cain said. "We just couldn't get off blocks and make the tackles."

That's when they could actually get their hands on the runner. Backup Dwight Wright burst through the middle for a 47-yard run without a Cal defender so much as laying a finger on him to set up Jackson's second score, a four-yard run on the very next play to make it 14-10.

The first big break of the game came on the bears' next possession, when Nick Barnett forced Boller to fumble and recovered the ball at the OSU 41 to set up Jackson's final score.

Boller was sacked a season-high four times, and faced more and more pressure as the Bears abandoned any attempt to run the ball.

"We need to establish a running game, that's something we're lacking right now," Tedford said. Cal finished with just 16 yards on the ground. "When you try to live by the pass against a defense like this, it's gonna be a long day."

It was certainly a long second half for the Bears. Boller, after completing 16 of 22 passes in the first half, was just 11 of 29 in the second, and Cal wasted opportunity after opportunity to get itself in the game.

Of the Bears' first four possessions of the half, three began at the Cal 45 or better, yet produced a total of three points.

Staff/Krista Osmundson

Boller and the offense got one last shot to get back into it when Jeremy Drake blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the OSU 42 with 2:56 to go in the game. The Bears moved quickly all the way to the 3-yard line and called time out. However, Dennis Weathersby intercepted Boller's endzone pass to Lashaun Ward on the very next play to end the threat.

"I read his eyes and felt he was gonna throw to my receiver," Weathersby said. "I just jumped left and it fell right into my hands."

It was an appropriate ending to a stellar day by OSU's corners, who had 14 pass breakups in the game and seemed glued to Cal receivers for the duration of the second half.

Boller finished 27-of-51 for 284 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this season, and turned the ball over twice. It was the first time this season the Bears lost the turnover battle.

"I felt good today, I threw the ball well, but they defended really well, and I made a freshman mistake at the end," Boller said. "I'm mad at myself because I didn't give us a chance to win. I gotta throw that ball away and live to see the next down."

Tedford had few answers for the Bears' downfall.

"We need to regroup, we're worn down and banged up," Tedford said. "We haven't been sharp enough, maybe we need to narrow our package a little and get back to basics."


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