Aug. 31, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. - Matt Nixon returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, and Jeff Tedford made a phenomenal coaching debut Saturday as California scored 35 points in the first quarter of a 70-22 victory over Baylor.
Cal scored on a 71-yard double pass on its first play, and the Golden Bears intercepted four passes - returning two for TDs, including Nixon's length-of-the-field ramble - while rolling to a 49-7 halftime lead that was nothing less than shocking for a school that went 1-10 last season.
Kyle Boller passed for 213 yards and three touchdowns as the Golden Bears backed up the highest-scoring quarter in school history with three fourth-quarter TDs that gave Cal 460 total yards on its most prolific offensive day since Sept. 7, 1991.
Even though the opponent was Big 12 doormat Baylor, which won six games in the past three seasons, the game was a dramatic boost for Cal, which hasn't had a winning season since 1993.
Tedford, Oregon's offensive coordinator in the past four seasons, was hired last December to revitalize a school that was on rock-bottom after five dismal years under Tom Holmoe. The chants of "We love Tedford!" and "We want 70!" at Memorial Stadium proved the rebuilding program is off to a fine start.
The Golden Bears' offense was overwhelming, but Cal also made several big plays on defense against Baylor quarterback Greg Cicero, a sixth-year senior who won back his starting job in the spring but was benched in the first quarter.
Reggie Newhouse had eight catches for a career-high 164 yards and a TD for Baylor, which had perhaps the most disastrous start possible to coach Kevin Steele's fourth season. Aaron Karas relieved Cicero and passed for 211 yards, most of it after halftime.
It was clear something special was happening for Cal from the game's first play. Boller threw a screen pass to Terrell Williams, who pulled up and threw a long pass to freshman David Gray behind the befuddled Baylor secondary.
With no defenders within 20 yards of him, Gray raced untouched for a score just 20 seconds into the game. The Cal crowd didn't really know how to react to such an athletic, surprising play by their Golden Bears.
James Bethea intercepted Cicero's pass on Baylor's first play, and Boller quickly led two TD drives to give Cal a 21-0 lead. Even when Baylor mounted its first solid drive late in the first quarter, the Golden Bears came out shining with another spectacular play.
Cicero's pass bounced off Shane Williams at the goal line, and Nixon intercepted it. The senior linebacker sprinted up the Baylor sideline, dodged Cicero's tackle at the Cal 40 and stumbled all the way into the end zone.
Fifty-two seconds after Nixon's return, Jemeel Powell returned another interception 26 yards for a score that gave Cal a school-record 35 points in the quarter. Cal had just eight interceptions in the entire 2001 season.
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer