Ducks Drop Second Straight, 21-17
BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon suffered a second straight loss for the first time in more than two years when the No. 23 Ducks fell 21-17 at California on Saturday.
The Ducks (3-2) rallied to a halftime lead when Travis Dye's 67-yard reception helped set up a rushing touchdown by Cyrus Habibi-Likio. That gave Oregon a 17-14 halftime lead, but Cal (1-3) scored the only points of the second half with a touchdown in the third quarter.
"It's obviously not good enough," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "Self-inflicted issues. And just not generating any type of points in the second half. Stopping ourselves on drives. Just coming up short. Not good enough."
Tyler Shough was 14-of-26 passing for 231 yards and a touchdown, but also lost one of two fumbles by the Ducks in the second half; Oregon didn't have a takeaway for the fourth time this season, losing the turnover battle to Cal. Dye had 156 all-purpose yards and Johnny Johnson III had a 39-yard touchdown reception in the first half, though Johnson too lost a fumble.
Oregon's defense limited Cal to 88 rushing yards, addressing the team's biggest issue in last week's loss at Oregon State. The Ducks averaged 6.1 yards per play and held Cal to 3.4 yards per play, but the two turnovers and some untimely penalties proved critical.
"The defense played the run excellent, overall took a huge step," Cristobal said. "… We felt we were going to play good defense. Felt our fits, line of scrimmage play, striking defenders had improved. And that some of the things we did from an alignment standpoint were gonna help us."
The Ducks led early on a 21-yard field goal by Henry Katleman. Cal responded by driving to Oregon's 1-yard line, and though the Ducks stonewalled the Golden Bears on the next two plays, Cal punched it in for a 7-3 lead.
It was still 7-3 early in the second quarter when Oregon forced a Cal punt. But the Ducks had 12 men on the field for the return, giving the Golden Bears a first down. Later in the drive the Ducks made a stop on third down in the red zone, but a penalty moved the chains again, and yet another defensive penalty preceded Cal's touchdown that made it 14-3.
"We gotta play cleaner football, more disciplined football," Cristobal said. "Which means we gotta coach more disciplined football."
Oregon responded with the long touchdown reception by Johnson, then went ahead just before halftime on Habibi-Likio's touchdown plunge. The Ducks were moving the ball midway through the third quarter when yet another penalty, this time on the offense, negated a successful third-down conversion; Oregon was forced to punt, and Cal responded with the go-ahead touchdown drive.
The Ducks had several more chances, but turned the ball over on downs early in the fourth quarter when a fourth-and-one play was stacked up at the line, before later losing the two fumbles.
Oregon wraps up the regular season at home against Washington on Dec. 12.