EUGENE — Cal receiver DeSean Jackson is back.
EUGENE — Cal receiver DeSean Jackson is back.
The preseason Heisman hopeful got off to a slow start this season — troubled in part by a sprained thumb — but he emerged with 11 catches for 161 yards and two scores in sixth-ranked California's 31-24 victory over No. 11 Oregon Saturday.
The receptions and the yards were career-bests, and the receiving touchdowns were his first of the season.
"This game was the one where I needed to do that and I stepped up and made big plays," said Jackson, who was touted by Cal as a Heisman candidate with a Web site.
Justin Forsett ran for 101 yards and another two scores, and Nate Longshore completed 28 of 43 passes for 285 yards and two scores for the Golden Bears (5-0, 2-0 Pacific-10 Conference).
California snapped a seven-game losing streak at Autzen Stadium — they hadn't won there since 1987 — and needed a close call to go their way to hang on to the victory.
Trailing by seven with 22 seconds to go, Oregon's Dennis Dixon hit receiver Cameron Colvin, who fumbled trying to reach the ball into the end zone when he was hit by Marcus Ezeff. The loose ball went through the end zone and was ruled a touchback and possession for Cal. The play was reviewed, the call stood and time ran out for Oregon (4-1, 1-1).
"That had huge significance right there, so they had to get it right," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "We knew when we saw it on the big board that there was no way it would be overturned."
Colvin said he was only trying to score.
"I think he hit my elbow, but I'm not really sure how it came out," Colvin said. "My teammates were picking me up, telling me 'It's not your fault, we made a lot of errors today as a team.' We're brothers. We win together, we lose together."
Oregon's Dennis Dixon, who was the only Pac-10 quarterback who had not thrown an interception, threw a pair late in the game. Dixon was 31-of-44 for 306 yards and a touchdown.
It was billed in advance as a high-scoring, offense-driven game, but both teams had trouble getting into the end zone through the first three quarters.
With the game tied at 10 in the third, Dixon hit Colvin with a 32-yard touchdown pass. Fans in Oregon's student section held up a large yellow sign reading "Dixon for Heisman."
Cal tied it again early in the fourth with Forsett's 1-yard scoring run, then pulled ahead with Longshore's 31-yard touchdown pass to Jackson.
Dixon ran a keeper in for a yard to tie it again at 24 with 7:06 left.
The Golden Bears got a scare late in the game when Longshore was hit hard by linebacker Kwame Agyeman and briefly left the game.
Dixon was picked off by Anthony Felder and Forsett went on to put the Bears ahead again on a 1-yard touchdown run with just more than three minutes to go.
Oregon moved the ball to the Cal 17 on the ensuing series, but a Dixon pass was tipped by Cal tackle Mika Kane and intercepted by Tyson Alualu.
"Oregon, you know, they're a great defense," Jackson said. "They play a lot of one-on-one coverage. They got some safeties over the top sometimes and they roll down and do different things, but coach Tedford and the offensive coordinator did a good job putting everything together for me to make plays today."
Jonathan Stewart, who was leading the league in rushing, had 21 carries for 121 yards for the Ducks.
Last season Cal defeated Oregon 45-24 at Berkeley. The loss was pivotal for the Ducks, who at the time were 4-0 and ranked 11th. Oregon went on to lose five of its next eight games for a 7-6 finish. Cal, at the time ranked 16th, went on to win five of the next seven and wrap up the season 10-3 as the co-conference champions with USC.
For two teams with potent offenses, it was all about defense early. The Ducks got a 32-yard field goal from Matt Evensen with 47 seconds to go in the first quarter, and the Golden Bears matched it with Jordan Kay's 34-yarder midway through the second.
Dixon struggled, missing key passes including a potential TD pass to Colvin, who was wide open in the end zone.
Oregon put together an efficient drive before the half, capped by Jonathan Stewart's 5-yard scoring run right through a crowd of California defenders to make it 10-3.
Oregon's defense, meanwhile, was able to effectively key in on Forsett and Jackson.
Still, Cal also had its chances.
Kay's 33-yard field goal attempt early in the second half went wide left. Cal succeeded later in the third quarter when Longshore found Jackson with a 25-yard scoring pass that tied it at 10.
Saturday's game also marked the return of Oregon's Duck mascot to Autzen Stadium. The Duck was suspended the last home game because he beat up the Houston Cougar in the season opener.
The game drew 59,273 fans, an Autzen record. Tedford, Oregon's former offensive coordinator, had never won with the Golden Bears at Autzen.
"It's not a vindictive win by any means," Tedford said. "It's just a great win for our program."
Oregon senior linebacker A.J. Tuitele broke his foot during the game, and was expected to be out for six to eight weeks.