Oct. 18, 1997
Cal Defeated by No. 12 Washington State
PULLMAN, Wash. - A slumping Cal football team proved to be no match for undefeated Washington State as the Cougars dominated in every possible category in route to a 63-37 victory in Pullman, WA. Washington State moved to 6-0 on the year while Cal has now lost four straight games and stands at 2-4 on the season.
For the first time all season, Cal was on the scoreboard first, but that lead was lead was short-lived and certainly not indicative of the final outcome. Washington State scored touchdowns on its first six possessions, with five of those drives taking up less than two minutes.
The Bears scored first when Justin Vedder saw a Washington State blitz coming and audibilized to a slant pattern. He lofted the ball over the middle to senior Kofi Nartey who had gotten behind free safety Ray Jackson and the senior receiver went 52 yards untouched into the endzone. However, Ignacio Brache missed the extra point and the Bears held a 6-0 lead.
Cal apparently had WSU's first drive stopped, but a roughing the punter personal foul kept the Cougar drive alive. Washington State took advantage as the Cougars caught the Bears in an all-out blitz and Michael Black took a handoff 24 yards untouched for a touchdown. The conversion was good and WSU had a 7-6 lead
Cal's season-long problem with penalties again reared its head on that drive as 30 of Washington State's 78-yard drive came via Cal penalties. The Cougar capitalized and running back DeJuan Gilmore took a handoff on a 3rd-and-1 situation, broke through the line of scrimmage and went 54 yards for a touchdown and a 14-6 lead.
Cal's penchant for giving up big plays was exploited on Washington State's next drive. Facing a 3rd-and-11 from their own 28-yard-line, WSU quarterback Ryan Leaf spotted a Cal blitz coming and audibilized to a fly pattern. Chris Jackson beat Cal corner Kato Serwanga and caught the pass in stride down the right sideline, scoring on a 72-yard touchdown play.
All parts of Cal's game began to unravel at this point. The Bears were unable to move the ball and Washington State's Nian Taylor broke through to block a Nick Harris punt and the Cougars recovered at the cal 14-yard-line. On the next play, Leaf hit Chris Jackson on a slant pattern for a 14-yard TD and the rout was on with the Cougars holding a 28-6.
WSU scored on its next two drives, the first coming on an 80-yard drive which culminated on a 28-yard TD run by Michael Black and the second coming on a 57-yard pass from Leaf to Kevin McKenzie when safety Pete Destefano got turned around while the ball was in the air.
The halftime stats showed Cal having a 21:38 to 8:22 time of possession advantage, but that only proved that Washington State's explosivness offense didn't need much time to get into the endzone as the scoreboard show a 42-6 Cougar lead.
Cal's nightmare continued on the Cougars first two possessions of the second half. Facing a 2nd-and-12 situation, WSU quarterback Ryan Leaf was in the grasp of Brandon Whiting for an apparent sack, but he slipped loose, rolled to his right and found tailback Michael Black wide open in the middle of the field. Black took it the rest of the way for a 55-yard TD pass and the Cougars had a 49-6 lead. On the next series, Leaf threw a perfect post pattern to Nian Taylor who made a diving catch for a 43-yard TD reception and a 56-6 score.
Cal did get a break late in the third quarter when Washington State punt return specialist Shawn Tims fumbled a punt and Brian Surgener recovered at the cougar 23-yard-line. Four plays later, Cal was in the endzone. A 12-yard pass to Bobby Shaw during the drive not only gave the Bears a first down to keep the drive alive, but gave Shaw the all-time career receiving record at Cal (besting Brian Treggs former mark of 2335 yards). Fullback Joshua White went the final six yards on a trap play and a two-point pass from Vedder to Surgener for a two-point conversion made it 56-14.
Three plays later, Brandon Whiting and Andre Carter combined to sack reserve WSU QB Steve Birnbaum and caused a fumble. The Cougars fell on the ball in the endzone for a safety.
Speedy freshman receiver Phillip Pipersburg got Cal back in the scoring column when he made a nice adjustment on a fly pattern and caught a 30-yard pass from Vedder for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. The conversion pass play failed but the Bears had narrowed the WSU lead to 56-22.
Cal also scored on its next possession on 52-yard pass play from Vedder to Bobby Shaw, who made an acrobatic catch at the 20-yard line and sprinted the rest of the way for a touchdown. Marcus Fields took in a conversion run and the margin was 56-30.
Just 0:58 later the bears were on the board again as Mawuko Tugbenyoh scooped up a Birnbaum fumble and raced 60 yards for a touchdown. Ignacio Brache added the extra point and the Bears had trimmed the lead to 19 points at 56-37.
But that's as close as Cal would get. The Bears held WSU on the ensuing possesion but after Cal got the ball back, Vedder was intercepted on a screen pass by Taeao Salausa who took the ball to the Cal five-yard-line. Three plays later, Birnbaum went behind center on a one-yard plung for the game's final score to close out the game and give Washington State a 63-37 victory.
The Bears will try to snap their four-game losing streak next week when they travel to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins while Washington State will hope to continue their march to the Rose Bowl when they host the Arizona Wildcats.