September 27, 1998
Cal vs. Washington State Sept. 26, 1998 Game Notes
Cal improved to 3-1 and 2-1 at home with a 24-14 victory today over defending Pac-10 champion Washington State, handing the Cougars (3-1) their first loss of the season. The 24 points are the most Cal has scored this year. This marks Cal's first victory over the Cougars since 1995 when the Bears won 27-11 in Berkeley. Cal is now 36-21-5 overall vs WSU.
Cal held a commanding 36:49 to 23:11 time of possession lead in today's game.
Turnovers Remain in Bears Favor - 6 to 3 Today -- +3 Differential Cal entered today's game ranked 19th in the nation in turnover margin at +1.33. Cal had a +3 turnover differential today after intercepting four balls and recovering two fumbles, while WSU intercepted two Vedder passes (Lamont Thompson and Dee Moronkola) and recovered a Cal fumble by Mike Freeman.
All of Cal's Points Off Turnovers With 4:46 remaining in the first quarter, DE Mawuko Tugbenyoh recovered a fumble and returned it 10 yards for a TD, the 3rd time he's returned a fumble for a TD in his career and the second against WSU. In '97, he returned a fumble 60 yards for a TD at WSU and a fumble at Arizona 38 yards for a TD.
With 3:23 left to play in the first half, Cal junior linebacker Matt Beck grabbed his second interception in as many weeks (4th career), returning the ball to the WSU 12-yard line to set up a 42-yard Tim Wolleck field goal.
Cal jumped to a 17-7 lead on Deltha O'Neal's interception for a touchdown (see note below). The Bears added a second interception returned for a touchdown with under a minute left to play when junior defensive back Drae Harris stepped in front of a Birnbaum pass and returned it 26 yards into the endzone. It was Harris's first career interception.
Cal Grabs 4 Interceptions to Surpass '97 Total The Cal defense has now recorded eight interceptions this season, eclipsing the '97 season total of 4. Two of the 4 INTs in today's game were made possible thanks to the play of junior defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach. Cal's first interception (Damian Marzett - first career INT) came after DeLoach applied pressure on WSU quarterback Steve Birnbaum, forcing him to make an errant throw, and the second pick (Matt Beck - fourth career INT) came after DeLoach tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage.
Deltha O'Neal - Cal's Return Man Extraordinaire With Cal ahead only 10-7 in the third quarter and the Cougars driving toward another score, Cal's junior playmaker Deltha O'Neal intercepted a Birnbaum pass and returned it 76 yards for the defense's second touchdown of the day. It was the first interception returned for a touchdown by the Cal defense since Matt Beck returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown vs. Oregon State on September 28, 1996.
O'Neal came into today's contest ranked 36th in the nation in punt returns with 11.0 ypr. Today, he returned punts for 22, 24, 19 and 15 yards and averaged 14.5 ypr on the day on 6 returns. O'Neal also had a 49-yard kickoff return early in the third quarter.
Punting Game Pins Cougars Deep Inside the 10 and 20-Yard Lines Cal downed two punts inside the 10 (5 and 3-yd lines) and two inside the 20 (11 and 14-yd lines) increasing its 1998 totals to 6 punts inside the 10 and 12 inside the 20. All of 1997, Cal downed only 8 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Douglas Moves Up Cal Career Reception List With 6 catches for 57 yards in today's game, senior wide receiver Dameane Douglas now has 122 career receptions for 1,555 yards to rank 8th on the Cal career receiving list. He now needs only 8 more catches to move past Sean Dawkins (1990-92) to rank 7th on that list.
Washington State's Quick Strike Offense With WSU down 10-0 at halftime and with only 64 total yards of offense, the Cougars entered the 2nd half determined to move the ball. On only the 2nd play, WSU QB Steve Birnbaum threw a 75 yard TD pass to Leaford Hackett to cut Cal's lead to 10-7. It was the longest pass play allowed by the Bears this season and the longest since Sept. 14, 1996, when San Diego State's Billy Blanton threw an 80-yard TD pass to Will Blackwell in Cal's 42-37 victory over the Aztecs.
The Cougars scored again later in the third quarter with a 29-yard TD pass from Paul Mencke to Jerry Roquemore to cut Cal's lead to 17-14.
WSU's Thompson on an INT Tear DB Lamont Thompson recorded his 10th interception in his last 8 starts when he intercepted a Justin Vedder pass less than 2 minutes into the game. It marked Vedder's 3rd interception of the season but the ball bounced off Dameane Douglas' chest and should have been caught.