Oct 4, 1997
California vs. Louisiana Tech
SHREVEPORT, LA. - In a game reminiscent of the days of sandlot football, Cal and Louisiana Tech waged a wide-open offensive battle that featured 75 points, 1,093 yards of total offense (the fourth highest total of any Cal game ever) and several lead changes before Louisiana Tech scored in the final minute to beat California, 41-34.
The fireworks began right after the opening kickoff as touchdowns were scored on the first three possessions and there were 54 points on the scoreboard before the halftime intermission. The Bulldogs used 10 plays to score after the opening kickoff with the big play coming on a 52-yard bomb from quarterback Tim Rattay to Troy Edwards which took the ball to the Cal 15-yard-line. Two plays later, Rattay hooked up with Cedric Williams on an inside screen resulting in a 13-yard TD pass.
It didn't take Cal long to respond. After a 10-yard opening pass play, tailback Deltha O'Neal took a sweep, juked a pair of Louisiana Tech players and cut back against the grain to go 66 yards for a tying touchdown.
Louisiana Tech needed seven plays to get back on the scoreboard. Facing a 4th-and-10 situation at the Cal 36. Tailback Bobby Ray Tell sneaked out of the backfield and Rattay found him completely uncovered for a touchdown pass and a 14-7 lead.
The Bulldogs added to their lead on their next possession as a 60-yard TD drive was keyed by a 39-yard pass from Rattay to Edwards which put the ball at the Cal 7-yard-line.
Cal used a big play of its own early in the second quarter when Vedder hit Bobby Shaw on a post pattern and he took it in stride for a 66-yard TD to cut the deficit to 21-14. It was the longest reception of ShawUs career. The Bear defense began to stiffen and Cal scored an apparent tying touchdown when Marcus Fields went in from five yards out with 6:45 left in the half. However, Ignacio Brache's extra point sailed wide left and the score remained 21-20.
Louisiana Tech went to its bag of tricks on its next drive and a run on a fake punt resulted in a 28-yard gain to set up a 23-yard field goal by Marty Kent and a 24-20 lead with 3:35 left in the half. Cal used a 45-yard kickoff return by Deltha OUNeal to set up its final scoring drive of the half. This time it took only five plays with Vedder hitting Shaw for 22 yards in the corner of the endzone for their second scoring connection. The kick made it 27-24 with only 1:29 left in the half.
That was just enough time for Louisiana Tech to move into position for a tying field goal. Using a pass interference penalty on a fourth down play with 11 seconds left in the half, the Bulldogs called upon Marty Kent to knock through a 43-yard field goal with just 2 seconds left on the clock. Cal had a major threat to open the second half, taking the opening drive to the Louisiana Tech 3-yard line. However, Vedder threw an ill-advised pass in the endzone that was intercepted by safety John Noel. The Bears took the lead in the last minute of the third quarter after a methodical 14-play drive which covered 77 yards. The big play was a 21-yard scramble by Justin Vedder and culminated on a 1-yard TD dive by fullback Joshua White. That made the score 34-27 entering the final period.
Cal had a chance to extend the lead on its first drive in the fourth quarter but a 74-yard screen pass to Deltha O'Neal for an apparent touchdown was wiped out by a downfield holding penalty. Another Cal penalty, this time a defensive holding penalty, negated an apparent Cal recovery of a Rattay fumble at the Bulldogs 20-yard-line with 12 minutes left in the game. Those two penalties were crucial in ultimately determining the outcome of the game as the Bears had a chance to put the game completely on ice, but allowed Louisiana Tech the opportunity to stay in the game.
Louisiana Tech drove the ball to the Cal 27 on its next drive, but the Bear defense knocked down a pass on a 4th-and-2 situation and took over on downs with just under 10 minutes left in the game. However, the Bears couldnUt move the ball and Louisiana Tech's Shawn Cangelosi's 42-yard punt return gave the Bulldogs the ball back at the Cal 24-yard line. However, Cal's defense held and a penalty forced the Bulldogs into a punt with 7:46 and Cal took over at its own 6-yard-line. Three plays later the Bears had to punt and the Bulldogs had another chance. This time, they took advantage. After a 21-yard pass to Troy Edwards moved the ball to the Cal 3, Tell went in for the touchdown on the next play and the conversion tied the game at 34 with 5:22 left in the game.
Again Cal could not move the ball on its next possession and with 2:25 remaining in the contest the Bears had to give-up the ball again. Tech began what would their final possession on their own 23-yardline. Three first downs on three plays and a Cal holding penalty placed the ball to the Cal 42 yardline and on the next play with the Bears bringing an all-out blitz, Rattay found Bradley wide open over the middle for the touchdown with only 0:53 remaining in the ball game. The Bears would get one final possession, however, Cal would not be able to move the ball past midfield before time expired. The loss dropped the Bears to 2-2 on the season, while Louisiana Tech improved to 4-1 with the victory.
Cal returns to Pac-10 play next week when they play host to the Washington Huskies at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 11 at 12:30 p.m. Louisiana Tech continues its 1997 season next season