Zennie62 on YouTube

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cal Survives A Thriller In OT

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Marshawn Lynch played on two sprained ankles, and No. 11 California was on its heels all day -- particularly after Washington scored the tying touchdown on the most improbable deflected pass either team had ever seen.

Yet Lynch finally got Cal into the driver's seat with a 22-yard scoring run in overtime. A few seconds later, he was in another driver's seat -- careening around the field at the wheel of a stadium cart to celebrate the Golden Bears' 31-24 victory Saturday.

Cal (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) hadn't played a close game all season, but this one got too close for comfort when linebacker Desmond Bishop deflected Carl Bonnell's last-gasp 40-yard pass right into the arms of Washington's Marlon Wood, who lunged over the goal line as time expired.

"We thought we had it wrapped up, and then I thought Doug Flutie was out there," Cal linebacker Zack Follett said.

Several Bears sat on the field in disbelief -- but Lynch was unaffected, finishing off a 150-yard performance with his second dynamic scoring run. Bishop, who made 16 tackles, redeemed himself with a game-ending interception as the Bears kept their Bowl Championship Series hopes on track and set off a wild celebration.

"This brings us together really tight, and it gives us some experience we can use for the rest of the season," said Bishop, who returned the last of Bonnell's five interceptions nearly 80 yards with the entire Cal roster running beside him.

"We know we can win big games now. We know it's inside us."

Instead of getting deflated by Washington's unbelievable comeback, Lynch and Bishop rallied their teammates together -- and with a superb overtime, Cal won its seventh straight game.

After Bishop finally fell down with the final interception, Lynch commandeered the cart used to carry injured players, saying he planned to pick up his exhausted linebacker.

The junior tailback wanted to ghost ride -- a tradition in his native Oakland in which drivers lean horizontally out of their open car doors -- but the cart has no doors. So Lynch jubilantly left turn tracks on Cal's artificial turf while the student section went crazy.

"It was a phenomenal feat, what he did," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said of Lynch's perseverance through injury. "I don't know about the cart, but he's an incredible player."

Lynch, who tied a school record with his 15th 100-yard performance, barely practiced during the week to rest his sore ankles. It didn't affect his motivation: Before the game, he angrily rallied his teammates after watching Washington run its pregame drills on the "Cal" logo at midfield.

Lynch made a 17-yard TD run with 1:52 to play. When Justin Forsett ran for a 2-point conversion and a 24-17 lead, Cal appeared to be safe after trailing much of the day against the Huskies (4-4, 2-3) and Bonnell, who was shaky but resilient in his first start in two years in place of injured Isaiah Stanback.

But Bonnell drove the Huskies 48 yards to the Cal 40, where he uncorked a long throw to the end zone with 6 seconds left. Bishop or Robert Peele could have knocked it down, but instead deflected the ball straight to Wood, who caught it and lunged over the goal line with just his second catch of the season -- and the first TD of his career.

"I was shocked that I actually caught it and just had to dive to take it to overtime," said Wood, a sprinter who returns kickoffs. "They kind of batted it out. I was lucky they didn't bat it down."

"I just tried to catch it -- and knock it down," Bishop lamented. "I've never even been in that situation before. I didn't know what to do."

Washington took USC down to the final possession of a 26-20 loss two weeks ago, and coach Tyrone Willingham's club again showed a flair for drama -- but again couldn't finish it off.

Nate Longshore passed for 291 yards but no touchdowns as Washington shut down Cal's big-play offensive stars -- except Lynch, who rushed for 102 yards after halftime.

Bonnell passed for 284 yards in his first game since Stanback was ruled out for the regular season with a severely sprained ankle. Stanback was hurt last week in the Huskies' home loss to Oregon State.

"Our line picked up pretty much everything they brought at us," said Bonnell, who also rushed for a score. "We did what we came here to do, but just didn't score enough points. We fought hard, but we had too many turnovers."

After a disappointing second half in last week's 21-3 win at Washington State, the Bears remained in their offensive slump. After scoring 192 points in the first halves of their last six games, Cal managed only Tom Schneider's field goal 2 seconds before halftime.

Anthony Russo caught a 49-yard TD pass moments earlier for the Huskies, who led 10-3.


Visit the new Zennie62.com

Google Analytics Alternative