Gesser leads Cougars Past Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. - Despite having a dislocated rib, Jason Gesser passedfor 431 yards and four touchdowns as No. 16 Washington State rallied to beatCalifornia 48-38 Saturday in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.
Three Washington State receivers topped 100 yards, led by Jerome Riley withseven receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars (4-1), who were thepreseason favorites to win the conference, scored 29 points in the thirdquarter to erase a 21-9 halftime deficit.
Kyle Boller threw for a career-high 374 yards and four touchdowns to leadCal, which lost its second straight game after starting 3-0.
Gesser completed 28 of 44 passes. Mike Bush added five catches for 125 yardsand a TD and Devard Darling had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Jonathan Makonnen had seven catches for 136 yards and a touchdown for theGolden Bears. Joe Igber carried 20 times for 111 yards and a TD, but got mostof his yardage early.
Darling caught a 6-yard TD pass with 4:35 left to break a 38-all tie. Gesserset up the score by completing a 41-yard pass to Riley in spite of gettingdrilled by Tully Banta-Cain just as he released the ball.
Drew Dunning added a season-best 48-yard field goal with 2:27 left to sealthe win.
Gesser started and played the whole game despite a dislocated rib on hisright side which he hurt last week against Montana State. He wore a specialhard flak jacket. After struggling in the first half, he directed scoringdrives in the Cougars' first two offensive series of the second half on the wayto a 10-point lead.
Following a fumbled kickoff by the Cougars, the Bears (3-2, 0-1) tied it at38 on a 20-yard field goal by Mark Jensen with 7:33 left.
The teams combined for 1,050 yards of offense.
Cal committed three major penalties in the second half that allowedWashington State to rally.
The Cougars took advantage of a pass interference penalty and scored intheir opening series of the second half to pull to 21-16 after John Tippins'6-yard TD run.
Then, following a dropped pass by Makonnen, a poor punt and aroughing-the-passer penalty, the Cougars were on their way to scoring again.Gesser completed a 10-yard TD pass to Bush, and then hit Scott Lunde for the2-point conversion and a 24-21 lead, their first of the game.
Four minutes later, Washington State's D.D. Acholonu blocked TylerFrederickson's punt and Erik Coleman picked it up and ran nine yards into theend zone.
Just when Cal showed some life again, Washington State responded. MarkWilson, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman, scored on a tackle-eligble play to pullthe Bears back within three, 31-28.
The Cougars got back to the end zone in two plays. Gesser hit Riley for31-yard TD just 38 seconds after Cal scored. Riley's catch followed Gesser's44-yard completion to Bush.
Washington State coach Mike Price had said it would be a game-day decisionon who would start at quarterback. Backup Matt Kegel also was banged up, with abruised right knee. The third-stringer is a freshman.
Cal built a 21-9 halftime lead behind Boller's 16 completions for 191 yards,including five to Tom Swoboda for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Igber had 95 of his 111 yards in the first half, and Cal's receivers weresharper after dropping 11 balls the previous week in a 23-21 loss to Air Force.
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer