Sept. 27, 1997

California-USC Game Notes

One of college football's longest uninterrupted rivalries continued today as USC defeated Cal, 27-17. The game marks the 72nd consecutive year the two teams have battled, dating back to 1926. USC now has a 54-26-5 series advantage and hold an overall 28-12-2 advantage in games played in Berkeley. USC had brought a losing record into its game against Cal only three times in the last 35 years, dating back to the 1962 season.

A turnover early in the game played a big part in today's contest, giving USC momentum. The Trojans Rashard Cook intercepted a Justin Vedder pass on Cal's 26-yard line with 7:40 left in the first quarter, which led to USC's first score.

Cal's John McLaughlin, a junior transfer from Notre Dame blocked a Jim Wren punt with 10:14 left in the third period. It was the first time the Bears have blocked a punt since wide receiver Bobby Shaw blocked a punt Sept. 9, 1995 versus Fresno State.

As it had done in the last game against Oklahoma, Cal again utilized a trick play in today's game. Versus Oklahoma, the Bears had a successful fake punt with Nick Harris gaining a first down. Today, with 10:44 left in the second quarter, the Cal holder on field goals, Bobby Shaw, competed a pass of 19-yards to Mark Vera for a first down on a fake field goal.

Cal's 41 yards rushing today is the fewest USC has allowed since allowing -10 yards by Oregon in 1989. The Trojans allowed Washington State 43 yards rushing in 1995.

LaVale Woods' 32 carries (for 129 yards) are a career-high and the most carries by a Trojan runner sinceMazio Royster carried the ball 32 versus Michigan State in the 1990 Hancock Bowl.

USC quarterback John Fox threw his first touchdown passes of his career today, throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to R. Jay Soward with 2:55 left in the first quarter to give the Trojans a 14-0 advantage. Fox then threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Soward with 7:30 in the second quarter. Soward finished the day with seven catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Fox finished the day completing 15 of 28 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

Cal's Bobby Shaw, who came into today's game ranked No. 1 nationally in both receptions (11.0 catches per game) and receiving yards (181.0 ypg), finished the day with five catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. Shaw now has caught 22 touchdown passes in his career, an amazing stat since he's only started 19 games at Cal. He just missed surpassing the school record he shares with Wesley Walker's for the most (eight) 100-yard receiving games. Shaw is now tied with Steve Sweeney (1970-72) as No. 5 on Cal's career receiving list with 132 catches for 2098 yards. In the third quarter today, Shaw also grabbed a two-point conversion pass from Vedder to make the score 27-11.

Cal receiver Dameane Douglas, although relatively quiet this season, also made some big plays for the Bears in the fourth quarter. With Cal trailing 27-11, Douglas pulled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Vedder to pull Cal within 10 points at 27-10. Douglas finished the day with a team-high six catches for 67 yards and one touchdown.

Cal redshirt-freshman tight end Brain Surgener also made the first two catches of his career today with a 33-yard reception and a 15-yard reception. He contributed a total of two catches for 48 yards in today's game.

Cal punter Nick Harris had a good game today with eight punts for 338 yards (42.3 yard average). Thus far this season, Harris is averaging 41.7 yards on 20 punts.

Coming into today's game, Cal had converted 17 of 34 third-down situations into first-downs (50.0%). In today's game, however, Cal was only able to convert two of 15 third-down situations into first downs. For the season, Cal now is converting 19 of 49 third-down situations into first-downs (38.8%).