Sept. 28, 2002
BERKELEY, Calif. - Despite having a dislocated rib, Jason Gesser passed for 431 yards and four touchdowns as No. 16 Washington State rallied to beat California 48-38 Saturday in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.
Three Washington State receivers topped 100 yards, led by Jerome Riley with seven receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars (4-1), who were the preseason favorites to win the conference, scored 29 points in the third quarter to erase a 21-9 halftime deficit.
Kyle Boller threw for a career-high 374 yards and four touchdowns to lead Cal, which lost its second straight game after starting 3-0.
Gesser completed 28 of 44 passes. Mike Bush added five catches for 125 yards and a TD and Devard Darling had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Darling caught a 6-yard TD pass with 4:35 left to break a 38-all tie. Gesser set up the score by completing a 41-yard pass to Riley in spite of getting drilled by Tully Banta-Cain just as he released the ball.
Drew Dunning added a season-best 48-yard field goal with 2:27 left to seal the win.
Gesser started and played the whole game despite a dislocated rib on his right side which he hurt last week against Montana State. He wore a special hard flak jacket. After struggling in the first half, he directed scoring drives in the Cougars' first two offensive series of the second half on the way to a 10-point lead.
Following a fumbled kickoff by the Cougars, the Bears (3-2, 0-1) tied it at 38 on a 20-yard field goal by Mark Jensen with 7:33 left.
The teams combined for 1,050 yards of offense.
Cal committed three major penalties in the second half that allowed Washington State to rally.
The Cougars took advantage of a pass interference penalty and scored in their opening series of the second half to pull to 21-16 after John Tippins' 6-yard TD run.
Then, following a dropped pass by Makonnen, a poor punt and a roughing-the-passer penalty, the Cougars were on their way to scoring again. Gesser completed a 10-yard TD pass to Bush, and then hit Scott Lunde for the 2-point conversion and a 24-21 lead, their first of the game.
Four minutes later, Washington State's D.D. Acholonu blocked Tyler Frederickson's punt and Erik Coleman picked it up and ran nine yards into the end zone.
Just when Cal showed some life again, Washington State responded. Mark Wilson, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman, scored on a tackle-eligble play to pull the Bears back within three, 31-28.
The Cougars got back to the end zone in two plays. Gesser hit Riley for 31-yard TD just 38 seconds after Cal scored. Riley's catch followed Gesser's 44-yard completion to Bush.
Washington State coach Mike Price had said it would be a game-day decision on who would start at quarterback. Backup Matt Kegel also was banged up, with a bruised right knee. The third-stringer is a freshman.
Cal built a 21-9 halftime lead behind Boller's 16 completions for 191 yards, including five to Tom Swoboda for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Igber had 95 of his 111 yards in the first half, and Cal's receivers were sharper after dropping 11 balls the previous week in a 23-21 loss to Air Force.
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer