Wildcats Win Wild One With Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. - Jason Johnson passed for a school-record 492 yardsand threw two of his four touchdown passes to Justin Levasseur as Arizona andembattled coach John Mackovic snapped a six-game losing streak Saturday with a52-41 victory over California.
Bobby Wade caught 11 passes for a career-high 222 yards as the Wildcats(4-7, 1-6 Pac-10) capped a tumultuous week with an improbable victory.
Nobody was sure what to expect from the Wildcats this weekend after 40players met with university president Peter Likins to express their distastefor Mackovic's abrasive verbal style and other concerns.
Instead of resigning, Mackovic apologized for several mistakes during atearful news conference. Three days later, the Wildcats scored more points thanthey managed in the previous four weeks combined during a wacky victory overCal (6-5, 3-4) that included touchdown returns of an interception, a blockedpunt and a blocked field goal.
Levasseur, a backup tight end who was one of Mackovic's biggest detractors,caught his first two TD passes of the season, including the go-ahead score with12:37 left. Earlier this week, Mackovic apologized to Levasseur for calling thetight end 'a disgrace to his family.'
Though his numbers reflect Arizona's near-complete abandonment of a runninggame, Johnson had his third 400-yard passing game of the season, completing 31of 45 passes. He outplayed Cal's Kyle Boller, who was 22-of-45 for 298 yardsand two interceptions.
The Golden Bears have made a remarkable turnaround under first-year coachJeff Tedford, but they awoke memories of last season's 1-10 team in adiscouraging defensive performance. Their terrible pass coverage cost them achance to clinch their first winning season since 1993.
Arizona's Lance Relford caught a 31-yard TD pass and later blocked a puntthat was returned by Lamon Means for a score. Andrae Thurman caught nine passesfor 151 yards as the Wildcats ran for minus-1 yards, but shredded the Bears'secondary.
Arizona, which ran for 48 yards in its first six conference games combined,avoided matching the longest losing streak in school history.
Trailing 34-31 early in the fourth quarter, Arizona went back ahead onLevasseur's 9-yard TD catch, then recovered a low line-drive kickoff thatricocheted off one of the Bears near midfield. Wade made a 7-yard TD catchmoments later, and Arizona followed with another scoring drive capped by BeauCarr's 7-yard TD run.
LaShaun Ward returned a kickoff for a touchdown and caught a scoring passfor Cal, while James Bethea returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for anotherTD.
The Wildcats got going during a 24-point second quarter. Both Wade andThurman had more than 100 yards receiving by the opening minutes of thequarter, with Wade hauling in a 74-yard pass.
Johnson, who had 291 yards passing at halftime, waved his arms and exhortedthe tiny crowd of Arizona supporters as he left the field with a 24-17 lead.
Moments after halftime, Cal's Lorenzo Alexander blocked Bobby Gill's 43-yardfield goal attempt, which was scooped up and returned 60 yards for a score byBethea.
Six minutes later, Relford blocked Tyler Fredrickson's double-clutch punt.Means returned it 27 yards for a score.
After Joe Igber tied it for the Bears with a 38-yard TD run, Johnson fumbledon Arizona's next play to set up Mark Jensen's 19-yard field goal, which gaveCal its first lead since the game's opening score at 34-31.
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Wed 1/25 | 6:00pm PTLive
Thu 1/26 | 6:30pm PTLive