Nov. 6, 2004
By GREG BEACHAM
BERKELEY, Calif. - California's fate was in Keith Allen's hands, and the Oregon receiver dropped the ball.
Geoff McArthur caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and fourth-ranked Cal's defense stopped Oregon near midfield with 1:39 left when Allen couldn't hold the final pass in the Golden Bears' 28-27 victory Saturday that solidified their Bowl Championship Series hopes.
Aaron Rodgers passed for 275 yards and three TDs, and J.J. Arrington ran for 188 yards and a score for the Bears (7-1, 5-1 Pac-10), who barely kept alive their big postseason dreams with a strong second half after falling behind 27-14 in the second quarter.
Kellen Clemens threw four touchdown passes in the first half for the Ducks (5-4, 4-2), who seemed headed for an upset after a dominant first half.
But two key mistakes made the difference: Jared Siegel missed an extra point in the first quarter, and Oregon's final drive ended when Allen dropped an easy fourth-down pass that would have put the Ducks well within field goal range.
Cal snapped a seven-game losing streak against Oregon with coach Jeff Tedford's first victory over the school where he served as Mike Bellotti's offensive coordinator for four years.
The Bears' first adversity in a month brought out a gritty second-half performance. Facing a 27-21 halftime deficit, Cal made four sustained drives - but thanks to Tom Schneider's two missed field goals and a fumble by freshman Robert Jordan, the Bears got just seven points.
Cal went ahead on McArthur's 19-yard TD catch with 13:25 to play. After Schneider missed a 40-yard field goal with 4:20 left, Clemens drove Oregon 36 yards to the Cal 41 - but he threw four straight incompletions, with the final pass bouncing off Allen's hands and helmet near the 20.
Allen stayed flat on his face for several moments while the Bears celebrated, but Clemens raced over to console his teammate.
Tight end Tim Day caught two of Clemens' four TD passes, and Terrence Whitehead ran for 91 yards as the Ducks' four-game winning streak ended.
Cal's defense posted consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1968 in its last two games, but Clemens and his teammates embarrassed the Bears' defenders with 302 yards in a commanding first-half performance.
The Ducks scored 20 points in 2:24 midway through the first quarter, twice getting good field position from Cal special teams mistakes.
Oregon went ahead 27-14 late in the first half on a 73-yard drive capped by Marcus Maxwell's 7-yard TD catch, but Rodgers and McArthur connected twice on a 75-yard drive in 85 seconds shortly before halftime.