October 10, 1998
LOS ANGELES - Sophomore tailback Marcus Fields ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning three-yarder with 3:30 left in the game, as Cal came back for a thrilling 32-31 victory over No. 19 USC Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Cal showed an incredible amount of resolve after trailing 31-10 with just over four minutes remaining the third quarter. The win, coupled with a 22-15 victory in 1996, marked the first time the Bears have won back-to-back at USC since the 1948 and '50 seasons.
Cal's winning drive began at the USC 43-yard line with 6:42 left when safety Pete Destefano recovered a Frank Strong fumble that was forced by Mawuko Tugbenyoh. The Bears converted three third downs during the 10-play drive, starting with a Justin Vedder seven-yard rush to the USC 37. Fields went over for the score and Tim Wolleck's conversion made it 32-31 Bears.
Douglas tied the Cal single-game record with 13 catches (151 yards), which is also held by Iheanyi Uwaezuoke and Jack Shraub.
The Trojans managed to build a 31-10 lead despite not having a scoring drive of more than four plays. Still, they didn't much need sustained drives with R.J. Soward, who scored one TD on a 77-yard pass play and another on an 80-yard punt return.
Cal's offense was crisp in its opening drive, showing some new wrinkles added during the previous bye week. Using a no-huddle offense and some four-wide receiver sets, Cal moved quickly down the field to the USC 15-yard line, before a sack pushed the Bears back and Cal had to call on Wolleck to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Unfortunately, he missed the kick and the Trojans took over on the 22-yard-line.
Three plays later, the Trojans struck when tailback Petros Papadakis broke the line of scrimmage on a 65-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 11:13 left in the first quarter. It was the fourth time in Cal's first five games that the Bear defense had given up an offensive drive over 65 yards on an opponents opening drive.
Cal responded with another impressive drive with four straight first downs, culminating on a halfback pass from Deltha O'Neal to a wide open A.J. Kunkle for a 20-yard TD pass. The conversion tied things 7-7 with 7:54 left in the opening stanza.
Back-up quarterback Sam Clemons came on to quarterback the Bears first series of the second quarter, but the Bears had three different penalties and had to punt the ball from their own 11-yard-line. The Trojans took advantage of a short punt and drove 41 yards on four plays. The first play was a lateral pass from Mike Van Raaphorst to Soward, who scooped up the ball and went 21 yards to the Cal 20-yard-line. Three plays later on a 3rd-and-2, Van Raaphorst found an open Windrell Hayes for a 13-yard TD pass. Hayes had beaten Derrick Gardner on a corner route and the conversion made it 14-7 with 8:05 left in the half.
After Clemons was unable to move the Bears, USC struck quickly. Soward got behind Gardner and caught a bomb for a 77-yard TD pass. Gardner missed a tackle around the Cal 25 and Soward went the rest of the way untouched.
O'Neal came to the rescue again as he broke his third straight long kickoff return, this one for 57 yards. A short pass to Corey Smith was followed by a 17-yard run by Saleem Muhammad. When the drive stalled, Wolleck came in to knock through a 34-yard field goal and cut the Trojans lead to 21-10.
However, USC had one more big play left during the first half and this time it was on special teams. With 20 seconds remaining, Ifeanyi Ohalete broke through and blocked a Nick Harris punt that the Trojans recovered at the Cal 2-yard-line. With only 13 seconds on the clock, the Trojans elected to kick an 18-yard field goal when a dive play netted only one yard on first down. The Abrams field goal made it 24-10 at the half.
After trading possessions without any scores to open the second half, it was yet another big play by the Trojans. Soward took a short punt, broke two tackles, and sprinted down the left sideline for an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 31-10 lead with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
Cal responded with a long drive to the Trojan 7-yard-line, but when Vedder tried to get the ball to an open Joel Young in the corner of the endzone, Ohalete broke on the ball and made the interception to kill the drive.
Cal's defense then made a big play of its own. After a holding penalty pushed the Trojans back to their own 8-yard-line, Sekou Sanyika broke through to tackle quarterback Carson Palmer in the endzone for a safety. That made the score 31-12 with 4:04 left in the quarter.
After the ensuing kickoff, Cal moved back into contention by putting together a 58-yard touchdown drive. Dameane Douglas was the key contributor on the drive, by catching three passes for 37 yards during the drive. The march culminated when Marcus Fields went in on a 3-yard sweep. However, Wolleck missed the extra point and the score stood at 31-18 with 0:30 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans almost had another big play on the first play from scrimmage when Papadakis went 58 yards for an apparent TD. However, a personal foul by Mike Bastianelli downfield set the ball back to the Cal 32.
That proved costly as two plays later. Albert Dorsey forced a fumble by tight end Antoine Harris and Damian Marzett picked the ball on a bounce and returned it 40 yards to the USC 37-yard-line.
Cal really made things interesting as Vedder promptly led the Bears into the endzone in five plays, culminating on a 2-yard TD pass to A.J. Kunkle with 13:51 left in the game. This time the extra point was good and the Bears were within a TD of the lead.
Cal really had the momentum on its side when it forced USC to punt from its own 13-yard-line. A 9-yard punt return by Deltha O'Neal gave the Bears the ball at the USC 47-yard-line with 11:02 left in the game.
The Bears moved to the Trojan 40-yard-line but then had to punt. Cal had the Trojans stopped on the next drive, but a very questionable pass interference penalty on Chidi Iwuoma gave the Trojans life. Instead of punting with 7:26 left, SC received a gift first down at its own 37-yard-line.
However, things got interesting two plays later when Strong fumbled the ball at the USC 43 and Destefano recovered the ball. Again, it was a close judgment call as Strong's knee appeared to be down before the ball came loose.
The Cal defense rose to the occasion and stopped the Trojans on three plays to force a punt with 3:04 left.
The Bears then ran out the clock with two first downs. Fields ran 21 yards for the first one. Then, with 20 seconds left, Fields went around left end for seven yards. The nose of the football was just past the first-down mark, and when the referees started the clock, the game soon ended.
The Bears benefited from superb performances by O'Neal, Vedder and Douglas. O'Neal accounted for 218 yards of all-purpose rushing (183 in kickoff returns, 12 in receiving, 23 in punt returns). Vedder hit 28-of-39 passes for 244 yards. Douglas had 13 catches for 151 yards.
GAME NOTES: Matt Beck had another superb game for Cal, winning a personal battle with USC All-America candidate Chris Claiborne as he had 7 tackles, including 3 behind the line of scrimmage while Claiborne had 8 tackles. Cal played the game without starting defensive end Andre Carter who suffered a sprained ankle in the Washington State game and could not play against the Trojans. Reserve wide receiver Bruce Pierre also sat out due to a bruised kidney he suffered during Thursday's practice. His absence allowed freshman walk-on Sean Curran to see his first collegiate action when Cal went to four-wide receiver sets. Among the former Cal greats on the Cal sidelines during the game were Les Richter and Chuck Muncie. Nick Harris had his longest punt of the season when he nailed a 54-yarder late in the first quarter. Redshirt-freshman guard Brandon Ludwig re-injured his right knee in the second quarter and did not return to the game. Marquis Smith also missed the second half with a chest injury. In the third quarter, center John Romero went down with a shoulder injury and also did not return. The Cal defense wasn't particularly effective in third down situations, allowing the Trojans to convert 6-of-12 third down opportunities. After Cal gained 105 yards and six first downs on its first two offensive drives, the Bears had only 69 yards of total offense and two first downs the rest of the first half. SC's Petros Papadakis, who had a career night with over 100 rushing yards, originally signed a letter of intent with Cal in 1995 and attended a few practices that fall, before becoming homesick and returning home to Palos Verdes and eventually enrolling at USC.
Qtr Time Play Score
1 11:15 Papadakis 65-yard run (Abrams kick) 0-7
Scoring Drive: 78 yards in 3 plays, 0:53
1 7:54 Kunkle 20-yard pass from O'Neal (Wolleck kick) 7-7
Scoring Drive: 60 yards on 6 plays, 3:19
2 8:05 Hayes 13-yard pass from Van Raaphorst (Abrams kick) 7-14
Scoring Drive: 41 yards on 4 plays, 1:58
2 6:15 Soward 77-yard pass from Van Raaphorst (Abrams kick) 7-21
Scoring Drive: 77 yards on 1 play, 0:
2 4:02 Wolleck 34-yard field goal 10-21
Scoring Drive: 26 yards on 6 plays, 2:13
2 0:03 Abrams 18-yard field goal 10-24
Scoring Drive: 1 yard on 2 plays, 0:10
3 7:21 Soward 80-yard punt return 10-31
3 4:04 Safety, Palmer tackled in endzone by Sanyika 12-31
3 0:30 Fields 3-yard run (kick failed) 18-31
Scoring Drive: 58 yards on 8 plays, 3:34
4 13:51 Kunkle, 2-yard pass (Wolleck kick) 25-31
Scoring Drive: 37 yards on 5 plays, 1:12
4 3:30 Fields 3-yard run (Wolleck kick) 32-31
Scoring Drive: 42 yards on 10 plays, 3:12
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
CAL: Fields 19-82
USC: Papadakis 13-188
Soward 2 22
CAL: Vedder 28-39-1-244, 1 TD
USC: Van Raaphorst 11-2-0-203, 2 TD
CAL: Douglas 13-151
USC: Soward 4-105
Team Statistics CAL USC
First Downs (Rush-Pass-Pen.) 24 (9-12-3) 17 (7-7-3)
Rushing (Att-Net Yds.) 42-157 34-153
Passing (PC-PA-Int) 30-42-1 12-24-0
Passing Yards 267 212
Total Offensive Plays 84 58
Total Offensive Yards 424 365
Punts-Average 6-34.8 6-31.8
Penalties-Yards 12-100 9-89
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-2
Time of Possession 34:49 25:11