Golden Bears Shine in Rainfall vs. Ducks, 26-16

Nov. 1, 2008

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Marcus Ezeff recovered Oregon's fumble on a punt return to set up Shane Vereen's 2-yard touchdown run with 8:57 to play, and California persevered through a steady rain for a 26-16 victory over the 23rd-ranked Ducks on Saturday.

Nate Longshore stepped in for injured Kevin Riley and passed for 136 yards for the Golden Bears (6-2, 4-1 Pac-10), who stayed in the thick of the conference race with their fourth victory in their last five meetings with Oregon.

Cal won despite floundering on offense for most of the final three quarters, but two Ducks turnovers allowed the Bears to make mercifully short scoring drives in miserable conditions at Memorial Stadium.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli rushed for 97 yards but passed for just 44 for Oregon (6-3, 4-2), and Jeremiah Johnson rushed for 117 yards and a score. The Ducks actually made fewer mistakes than Cal in the muck, but Jairus Byrd's fumbled punt and Masoli's interception in the closing seconds of the first half set up the Bears for short scoring drives.

Jeremy Ross and Nyan Boateng caught touchdown passes for Cal. Jahvid Best rushed for 93 yards, but also had two of Cal's four fumbles.

Under a windy downpour that only got worse throughout the afternoon, Memorial Stadium's synthetic turf was marshy by halftime in Berkeley's worst game-day rainstorm in a decade. Both teams struggled in it, but Worrell Williams' interception return shortly before halftime and Ezeff's recovery saved Cal.

Oregon hadn't fumbled despite the storm until Byrd dropped his attempt to make a fair catch on a punt inside the Ducks 10 with 10:07 left. Ezeff, the Cal cornerback who forced Oregon receiver Cameron Colvin's last-second fumble through the end zone in the Bears' win at Eugene last year, recovered at the 6, and Vereen punched it in.

Masoli, the Bay Area native and junior college transfer who sparked the Ducks' offense last week against Arizona State, rushed well but went 7-for-21 as a passer. Masoli and fellow sophomore Justin Roper both failed to lead an Oregon scoring drive in the final minutes, with Roper throwing the final incompletion from midfield with 38 seconds to play.

Shortly after Oregon long snapper Zach Taylor launched a punt snap 38 yards out of bounds for a safety in the first quarter, Riley took a vicious hit when he failed to slide while scrambling for a first down. Riley incurred a concussion, and didn't play again after woozily stumbling off the field.

Longshore, who has been booed regularly by Cal fans since last season, fumbled the snap on an ensuing field goal attempt, but Cal took a 16-6 halftime lead when linebacker Williams intercepted Masoli's pass and returned it inside the Oregon 5 in the final seconds of the half, setting up Boateng's short TD catch.

The teams traded second-half field goals before Oregon went 55 yards on three running plays, ending in Johnson's 17-yard score. Oregon's Matt Evensen missed a 29-yard field goal attempt with 13:28 to play.

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