Cal vs. Illinois Postgame Notes

Sept. 17, 2005


BERKELEY, Calif. -

Cal vs. Illinois Game NotesSept. 17, 2005 at Memorial Stadium

Records: After trailing 17-7 at the half, No. 15 Cal rallied to defeat Illinois, 35-20, to improve to 3-0. Illinois dropped to 2-1. This marks Cal's biggest come-from-behind victory since the Bears defeated Oregon, 28-27, Nov. 6, 2004, in Berkeley after the Ducks led 27-14 in the second quarter. Cal has posted 3-0 starts in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1951 and 1952 teams began their seasons 3-0. The Illini still hold a 7-3 series lead. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford improved to 11-5 against non-conference opponents. Coming off last season's 5-0 home record, the Bears have triumphed in nine straight home games and are 15-5 at home in the Tedford era, which began in 2002. Overall, Cal has claimed 16 of its last 18 games and 18 of its last 21 contests.

Attendance: Today's attendance is 57,653, marking the seventh straight home game that Cal has drawn at least 50,000 fans.

Forsett Shines in First Start: Sophomore TB Justin Forsett carried the ball 16 times for 187 yards and two TDs in his first career start for Cal. Forsett's 187 rushing in his first career start are more than sophomore Marshawn Lynch (147) had in his first collegiate start against Sacramento State Sept. 3. JJ Arrington had 181 yards in his first start at Air Force in 2004. The Bears have now had a 100-yard rusher in 15 straight games. Forsett also caught three passes for 43 yards to lead Cal. Forsett's career-long 45-yard rush keyed the Bears' opening drive touchdown (scored by Forsett). The TDs were Forsett's first in Memorial Stadium and third and fourth of his career. The other two came last year at Air Force and at Washington (recovered blocked punt).

O'Keith Has Another Strong Game: Junior TB Marcus O'Keith carried the ball 12 times for 66 yards and one TD (fourth overall on the year), pushing Cal to a 35-20 advantage. He also caught one pass - a 26-yard screen pass - for his first career receiving TD in the third quarter. The TD was O'Keith's third of the year and brought Cal to within 17-14. O'Keith's performance comes on the heels of a strong outing in the Washington win (6 carries, 103 yards, 2 TDs).

Ayoob Recovers for Solid Second Half: After completing 1-of-9 passes for 22 yards in the first half, QB Joe Ayoob completed 7-of-8 passes for 99 yards and a 26-yard TD to Marcus O'Keith in the third quarter.

Mixon Scores on 79-Yard Punt Return: With Cal leading only 21-17, Tim Mixon returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with 11:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. The punt return for a TD was the eighth longest in school history. Against Sacramento State in week one, Cal's DeSean Jackson had a 49-yard punt return for a TD in the fourth quarter. The 1966 Bears set the school record with four punt returns for a TD in a season.

Five Bears Start First Game of Careers: LB Anthony Felder, TB Justin Forsett, OL Bryan Deemer, DE Phil Mbakogu and OL Scott Smith each started their first game for the Bears. Felder recorded eight tackles for Cal (third best on the team). Seven players who made their first career starts against Sacramento State didn't play today - TB Marshawn Lynch, QB Nate Longshore, WR Noah Smith, DE Tosh Lupoi and LB Greg Van Hoesen, OL Andrew Cameron and OL Aaron Merz.

Bears Continue Habit of Scoring First: Cal continued a trend today of scoring first under head coach Jeff Tedford. The Bears have scored first in two of its first three games this season and have won both contests. The Bears scored first in seven of 12 games last year and won the seven games in which they scored first. In Tedford's inaugural 2002 campaign in Berkeley, Cal was 6-5 when scoring first, and in 2003, Cal was 4-2 when scoring first. Overall, Cal is now 19-7 when it has scored first under Tedford.

Cal Offense Takes Off in Second Half: Cal has outscored its opponents 87-10 in the second half this season. Last season, the Bears outscored their opponents, 227-67, in the second half.

Defensive Leaders: Cal recorded three sacks on Illinois QB Tim Brasic. MLB Zack Follett recorded one sack for a loss of five yards. Nu-u Tafisi recorded a critical sack for a 4-yard loss with Illinois facing a third down and 11 yards with the ball on the Cal 15-yard line. The Bears held the Illini to a 36-yard FG as a result of the late second-quarter sack. In the third quarter, Brandon Mebane joined the sack parade with one for an eight-yard loss. The Bears also tallied nine tackles for loss for a total of 26 yards. Cal has held its opponents without a 100-yard rusher for eight straight games. Desmond Bishop led Cal with a season-high 11 tackles, marking the third straight week he's held team-high honors in that category. ROV Donnie McCleskey had a season-high 10 tackles for Cal.

Bear Bits: Cal has posted two touchdowns (Sacramento State and Illinois) and a turnover (Washington) on its opening drives this season...Illinois' Pierre Thomas' first-quarter touchdown ended Cal's streak of 10 straight quarters holding an opponent without a TD at Memorial the first quarter, Illinois ran 26 plays to Cal's 10, as the Bears only had the ball for 3:12 of the opening period...Illinois held an 34:45 to 25:15 time of possession advantage for the game and ran 80 plays to Cal's 53. Cal had the same number of plays as its opponent in its first two games this season - 69 vs. Sacramento State and 66 at Washington...However, Cal out-gained Illinois, 415 yards to 337 yards overall...Cal has scored in 11 of 12 quarters this year.

Illinois Notes: Illinois' first two offensive drives of the game were the two longest of the season - lasting 6:01 and 5:47. Illinois true freshman wide receiver Derrick McPhearson played in his first game of the season, returning from a broken leg suffered in July. The Illini have now played eight true freshmen this season. With 57 yards rushing today, Illinois RB Pierre Thomas improved to 2Oth on the all-time Illinois rushing list. Thomas also moved up the career kick return yardage list. With 92 yards, he improves to fifth. Illinois had nine different receivers with catches vs. Cal. Thomas had a career-long reception of 52 yards. Illinois was 4-for-4 in the redzone to continue their streak of scoring inside the 20. For the season, Illinois is 16-for-16 with nine TDs and seven field goals.

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