Oct. 23, 2005
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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Joe Ayoob completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins with 1:50 left, and No. 25 California survived a second-half defensive meltdown to beat Washington State 42-38 on Saturday night.
After Jason Hill caught three long touchdown passes from Alex Brink on the way to a career-high 240 yards receiving for the Cougars, Ayoob led the Golden Bears on one final drive with his top two receivers watching from the sidelines with injuries.
He hit a wide-open Hawkins in the back of the end zone and Cal (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10) avoided its first three-game losing streak in coach Jeff Tedford's four-year tenure and what certainly would have been an exit from the rankings for the first time in 21 polls since 2003.
Brink finished 18-for-39 for 423 yards and five touchdowns, and Jerome Harrison ran for 162 yards for his 10th straight 100-yard game, but the Cougars (3-4, 0-4) lost their fourth straight in frustrating fashion - blowing a double-digit lead in the second half for the third time after starting the season 3-0.
"I don't have an answer," dejected coach Bill Doba said. "Little mistakes give up big plays."
Hill had his second career three-touchdown game and the teams combined for more than 1,100 yards of total offense. Hill hauled in second-half TD passes of 38, 62 and 38 yards - the last of which was tipped by cornerback Tim Mixon before finding Hill's hands for a 32-28 lead with 3:05 left in the third.
Husain Abdallah intercepted a pass by Ayoob early in the fourth quarter, setting up Chris Jordan's 16-yard touchdown catch, but the point after attempt was blocked and the Cougars couldn't hold the lead one week after blowing a 21-point cushion and losing to UCLA 44-41 in overtime at home.
LaReylle Cunningham caught a 57-yard TD pass from Ayoob with 5:19 left for his first career touchdown to pull Cal within 38-35. The Bears, playing the Cougars for the first time since 2002, ended a four-game losing streak to Washington State dating to 1998.
Hill extended his streak to nine straight games with a touchdown catch, and now has 23 career TD receptions to break the Washington State career record of 22 set by Hugh Campbell from 1960-62. Hill's yards are the most by a Pac-10 receiver this season.
Greg Van Hoesen and Mixon each made key interceptions late in the first half to help the Bears break open the game with 14 points in a 90-second span on the way to a 28-10 halftime lead.
Van Hoesen made his first career interception and ran it back 16 yards for a score, then Mixon's 38-yard interception return on Brink's very next pass set up Ayoob's 3-yard TD pass to Chris Manderino.
Brink, who three weeks ago set a single-game school record when he passed for 531 yards against Oregon State, completed only four passes in the first half but managed 178 yards on those throws.
Ayoob, missing two of his top receiving targets, threw for 274 yards and four TDs and Marshawn Lynch scored on a season-long 39-yard run on the way to a 160-yard game. Justin Forsett added 111 yards for the Bears. Hawkins briefly took a seat with 5:20 left in the third following a hard fall, but still came up big.
Brandon Gibson made a 66-yard touchdown catch with 10:32 left in the first quarter - burning Mixon on the sideline route - to give the Cougars a quick lead.
With kickoff at 7:15 p.m. local time, this was only the second night game ever at Memorial Stadium, where 52,569 fans turned out for the nationally televised game on a chilly Bay Area night.
Cal hadn't beaten Washington State since a 24-14 home victory in 1998.