Cal Beats New Mexico State, Improve To 2-0
Sept. 7, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. - Kyle Boller threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns as California got off to its first 2-0 start in five years, beating New Mexico State 34-13 Saturday.
Joe Igber rushed for 87 yards and a score as the Golden Bears won again under new coach Jeff Tedford, though they did it without the spectacular scoring and trickery of their season-opening 70-22 win over Baylor.
The Bears had not won their first two games since 1997, when Tom Holmoe got off to a strong start in the first of his five straight losing seasons. Cal has won two straight at Memorial Stadium after going 1-10 last season.
Tedford, Oregon's offensive coordinator for the past four seasons, already has improved the performances of Boller and Igber, the Bears' senior offensive stars.
Boller completed 19 of 32 passes and rushed for a score, while Igber's shifty running kept the Bears' offense moving toward a methodical victory. Mark Jensen, another senior, kicked two field goals for Cal.
Buck Pierce passed for 121 yards and rushed for 62 for the Aggies, who had a close loss at South Carolina in their season opener. Pierce left the game after bruising his left shoulder while getting sacked by three Bears late in the third quarter.
New Mexico State hurt itself with eight penalties for 85 yards, and the Aggies fumbled four times, losing two of them. Dario Aguiniga kicked two field goals, including one from a career-best 50 yards.
The Aggies outgained the Bears 321-298 thanks to a last-minute 26-yard TD pass, but Cal capitalized on every break and almost kept the Aggies out of the end zone entirely.
Last week, Cal jump-started its win with a double pass on the first play. New Mexico State beat Cal to the punch on trickery with an onside kick to begin the game - but the Aggies touched the ball too soon, putting the Bears in prime field position. They went on a 44-yard drive capped by LaShaun Ward's 15-yard TD catch.
Following a New Mexico State fumble inside the Aggies' 20, Tom Swoboda caught a 5-yard TD pass from Boller late in the first quarter, putting Cal up 17-3 and forcing the Aggies to abandon the option.
The Golden Bears went up 24-6 on Igber's 4-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Lorenzo Alexander blocked a punt to set up Boller's 1-yard TD dive over the pile with 2:53 remaining.
The Cal crowd chanted 'Undefeated!' in the closing seconds, moments before New Mexico State backup quarterback Paul Dombrowski hit Ronshay Jenkins for a score with 10 seconds left.
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer