September 12, 1998
BERKELEY - The California Golden Bears, behind an admirable defensive performance, threw a scare into the No. 4-ranked Nebraska, before eventually falling to the defending national champs, 24-3 in front of 67,000 fans in Memorial Stadium.
The Bears trailed the Cornhuskers by only nine points with four minutes remaining in the game, but a late touchdown and an interception that led to a field goal were enough to put the game out of reach.
The Cal defense, despite giving up 434 yards of total offense on 88 Nebraska offensive plays, kept the Bears within striking distance for most of the afternoon. But for the second week in a row, the Cal offense struggle to convert opportunities into points as on four separate occasions, the Bears drove deep into Nebraska territory only to come away empty handed.
Quarterback Justin Vedder, who was sacked five times on the afternoon, completed only 14 of his 32 passes on the afternoon, but the ones he did hit on went for big plays as the Bears torched the Cornhusker secondary for passes of 40, 44 and 44 yards.
On the receiving end of five Vedder passes was Dameane Douglas, who for the fourth consecutive game topped the century mark with 125 receiving yards, including a 40-yard reception on Cal's lone scoring drive of the day.
The Cal defense kept Nebraska off the board for over 36 minutes of the second, third and fourth quarters. In fact, the Cornhuskers were only able penetrate the Cal 41-yard-line one time over that span of the game.
For the game Cal had recorded 12 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Overall, seven separate Bears registered stops in the Nebraska backfield with Sekou Sanyika leading the way four for -11 yards. Pete Destefano (14), Albert Dorsey (12) and Sanyika (11) each notched double digits in tackles for the game as the Cornhuskers rushed the ball 60 times on the afternoon.
It didn't take Nebraska long to get on the board and they did it in classic Cornhusker fashion. After holding Cal to a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Nebraska marched the ball 67 yards in seven plays, all rushes, to take an early 7-0 lead. The drive was highlighted by two long runs; an 18-yard burst up the middle by Joel Mackovicka and a 29-yard option around left end by Correll Buckhalter. Cornhusker quarterback Eric Crouch capped the drive with a one-yard plunge behind center.
The Cal defense then settled in and though both teams drove the ball during the remainder of the first quarter, neither could sustain a drive that resulted in points.
Nebraska finally upped its lead to 14-0 on its first drive of the second quarter. Once again the Cornhuskers hit the Bears with big running plays during a five play, 64-yard march that used only 1:37. After a 25-yard run up the right sideline by Mackovicka that moved Nebraska into Bear territory at the 41, Crouch kept the ball on an option and scampered 37 yards to the 6. Two plays later Crouch scored his second touchdown of the game on a 3-yard keeper.
Cal looked like it was going to jump right back into the game as Deltha O'Neal busted the ensuing kick off 49 yards up the to midfield with a spectacular kick return. A nine-yard run by Josh White and a 31-yard pass from Vedder to Douglas put the Bears in business at the Nebraska 11-yard-line. But Cal was not able to capitalize as an incompletion and two consecutive losses forced Cal to attempt a 37-yard Ignacio Brache field goal that sailed wide right.
Cal finally got on the board midway through the third quarter as the Bears marched 47 yards in six plays with Tim Wolleck capping the drive with a 38-yard field goal. The drive was keyed by Vedder's 40-yard hook-up with Douglas that moved Cal from its own 35 to the Nebraska 25.
Both offenses continued to have success moving the ball between the 30s, however, neither team could put any more points on the board until late in the fourth quarter when Nebraska drove 70 yards in 9 plays to put the game out of reach, 21-3. Walk-on quaertback Monte Cristo, who took over for an ailing Crouch in the second half, connected with Shevin Wiggins on a five-yard pass for the Cornhuskers third touchdown of the day.
After a Nebraska interception by Mike Brown, Cornhusker kicker, Kris Brown, provided the final scoring margin with a 41-yard field goal with only 19 seconds left in the game.
The Bears will try to get back on the winning track next week when Cal travels to Oklahoma its second consecutive Big XII foe. Game time is set for 6 p.m. CDT/4 p.m. PDT and be aired live in the Bay Area on Fox Sports Bay Area.
Game Statistics 1 2 3 4 - F Nebraska 7 7 0 10 - 24 California 0 0 3 0 - 3
Qtr Time Play Score N 1 12:08 Crouch 1 run (Brown kick) 0-7 Scoring Drive: 67 yards in79 plays,2:22 N 2 9:55 Crouch 3 run (Brown Kick) 0-14 Scoring Drive: 64 yards in 5 plays, 1:37 C 3 6:42 Wolleck 38 FG 3-14 Scoring Drive: 47 yards in 6 plays, 2:24 N 4 3:54 Wiggins 5 pass Cristo 3-21 Scoring Drive: 70 yards in 9 plays, 2:54 N 4 0:19 Brown 41 FG 3-24 Scoring Drive: -10 yards in 4 plays, 1:38
Team Statistics Cal Neb First downs (Rush-Pass-Pen.) 9 (2-7-0) 24 (12-9-3) Rushing (Att-Net Yds.) 25-12 60-254 Passing (PC-PA-Int.) 14-32-2 15-28-1 Passing Yards 224 180 Total Offensive Plays 57 88 Total Offensive Yards 236 434 Punts-Average 9-38.2 7-41.9 Penalties-Yards 9-53 4-29 Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0 Time of Possession 35:42 24:18
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
RUSHING CAL: Fields 8-30 White 8-15
NEBRASKA: Mackovicka 14-83 Buckhalter 12-71 Crouch 16-59
PASSING CAL: Vedder 14-32-2 224 Yds. 0 TD/2 Int
NEBRASKA: Christo 9-12-0 106 yds 1 TD/0 Int
Crouch 6-16 74 yards 0 TD/1 Int
RECEIVING CAL: Douglas 5-124 Kunkle 3-51 White 4-15
NEBRASKA: Wiggins 7-97 1TD Davison 5-44 Jackson 1-31