Oct. 11, 1997
No. 10 Washington Defeats Cal, 30-3
BERKELEY, Calif. - Brock Huard passed for a pair touchdowns and Rashaan Shehee ran in two others as the 10th-ranked Washington Huskies overcame Cal's bid for upset and captured a 30-3 victory in front of 48,000 fans in Memorial Stadium.
A quick look at the closing statistics might have led one to believe that Cal had come up with a win. And in reality, the game was much closer than the final score indicated. The Bears ran 11 more plays (78 to 67), outgained Washington in total yardage (344 to 336) and had four more first downs (21 to 17) on the afternoon. Cal's junior quarterback, Justin Vedder also out dueled Huard in passing yardage, 202 compared to 189.
But Cal, which wanted to reverse a trend of slow starts, was unable to convert numerous early opportunities into points and a key turnover on the first play of the second half eliminated any chances for an upset. Despite playing inspired defense and three times driving the ball inside the Washington 30-yard-line in the first half, Cal was able to manage only three points. Those missed scoring chances would later come back to haunt the Bears as Washington would reel of 23 unanswered points in the second half, including 16 points in in the third quarter.
Individually, Cal tailback Tarik Smith had 17 carries for 84 yards and wide receiver Bobby Shaw caught six balls for 60 yards as he moved into third place on the Cal all-time receptions with 144 career catches. But neither could find the endzone as the Bears were unable score a touchdown for the first time this season.
After holding Washington to three plays and out on its opening possession, Cal put together an impressive 42-yard 12-play drive, that saw the Bears twice converting third and long situations. The drive, however, stalled as Cal couldn't convert a 3rd-and-1 at the Husky 17. However, Ignacio Brache couldn't convert a 35-yard field goal attempt as the Bears missed out on a chance to draw first blood.
The Bears held Washington on its next possession and again Cal put together an impressive drive -- 29 yards on 8 plays. But for the second series in a row, the drive stalled inside the Husky 30-yard-line forcing a 39-yard Brache field goal attempt. This time Brache's kick was blocked and for the second series in a row, the Bears were denied the game's first score.
The Cal defense appeared to stop Washington for a third straight possession when Husky tight end Cameron Cleeland fumbled a Brock Huard pass which Cal recovered on it own 40-yard-line. But an offside penalty nullified the turnover and the Huskies proceeded to march 73 yards in eight plays for the game's opening score. The drive was capped by a Huard to Cleeland touchdown pass that covered the drive's final 43 yards and gave Washington a 7-0 lead only a minute into the second quarter.
The Bears were unable to get anything going on the next time they had the ball and when Cal punter Nick Harris failed to convert a 4th and 26 from the Cal 42 with a fake punt, Washington was able to take over at midfield. With a short field in front of them, the Huskies looked certain to add to their lead. But the Cal defense rose to the occasion, stopping the Husky drive at the Cal 30-yard-line and forcing a 47-yard Nick Lentz field attempt. Lentz, however, was unable to convert, pushing the ball wide right, and the score remained 7-0 Washington.
After an exchange of punts, Cal took over at its own 17 yard line with 3:15 remaining in the half. The Bears then proceeded to put together yet another long drive, moving the ball 65 yards on 14 plays. Cal was finally able to get on the board when Brache connected on a 35-yard field goal with just one second remaining before halftime.
Despite having the advantage in both total yards (210 to 146) and time of possession (15:33 to 14:27) in the first half, due to the fact that Cal was unable to capitalize on two excellent first half scoring opportunities the Huskies were able to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room.
The key play of the game occurred on the opening kickoff of the second half when Deltha O'Neal fumbled the kickoff. The Huskies recovered at the Cal 24 and two plays later, Rashaan Shehee galloped 19 yards for a touchdown giving the Huskies a 14-3 lead to open the second half.
The Bears were unable to move the ball on their ensuing possession. After as 20-yard punt return by Washington's Jerome Pathon the Huskies appeared to be in position to seize control of the game taking over at the Cal 42-yard-line. Seven plays later, Washington upped its lead when Shehee scooted seven yards around left end for his second touchdown on the afternoon. Lentz missed the extra point but Washington had extended its lead to 20-3.
Although the Bears got to the Washington 31-yard-line on the next play, the drive stalled there as a Smith running play on 4th-and-2 was unable to gain the necessary yardage for the first down.
A 32-yard Lentz field goal to close the third quarter put Washington up 23-3 and gave the Huskies a comfortable margin. Washington added a final TD with 1:24 left in t he game.
The Bears return to action next week when they travel to Pullman, Wash., to take on the 12th-ranked Cougars while Washington plays its second of three consective road games in Tucson, Ariz., against the Arizona Wildcats.