Sept. 28, 2002
Offensive linemen do not usually receive any statistics in their media guide profiles. They get listed for their height, weight and at some schools, "pancake blocks." But Cal offensive tackle Mark Wilson has added a new dimension to the position ... rushing yards.
At a pivotal moment in the game with the Bears trailing 31-21 - and all the momentum seemingly in the grasp of Washington State - Wilson found a way to get into the record book.
With just over 2:30 left in the third quarter and the Bears on the WSU 3-yard-line, Wilson was cleverly left uncovered by design on the left end. Quarterback Kyle Boller faded back and threw a lateral to Wilson, who had stepped back a couple of yards from his tackle position. Wilson gathered the toss and rumbled into the end zone for the score, bringing Cal within three points.
"It was a play that we practiced maybe three times at the last minute on Thursday," said Wilson. "It didn't really work in practice, but as Coach Tedford told us, it is one of those plays that doesn't work in practice, but somehow works in the game."
The play brought Cal fans to their feet, who were probably as stunned as the Cougars with the outcome.
"I wasn't nervous at all," said Wilson. "We needed a play, and I was glad that I came through for the rest of the guys."
Wilson, a 6-6, 295-pound junior, is no stranger to running with the ball in his hands. He was a tight end at McArthur High School before moving over to the offensive line. Although the move happened four years ago, Wilson never forgot his pass-catching roots, coming up to the practice field over the years a few minutes early to play catch with the receivers.
"You can kind of say I have been prepping for that awhile," said Wilson. "It just feels good to catch the ball again, but it would have been better if we had won."
Despite the 48-38 gut-wrenching loss to WSU, Wilson and the rest of the offensive line should not hang their heads. The Bears front five allowed adequate protection and created seams in the Cougar defensive front. For their efforts, the Bears enjoyed the luxury of having a 300-yard passer and a 100-yard rusher for the first time this year, compiling 472 yards of total offensive in all.
"They did a good job today protecting and have done all year," commended Tedford. "I am encouraged, not discouraged. We played tough, and they showed that we will not quit."
Wilson and the Bears demonstrated their resiliency, not lying down when it seemed the game was out of reach with WSU up by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"The big plays that we were able to get late really shows that this team has character," said Wilson. "We just need to continue to work and get a few more plays to go our way, and good things are going to happen."