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Despite miscues, Oregon hits jackpot

EUGENE — Mark Helfrich compared it to winning the lottery or seeing Halley’s Comet streak over Autzen Stadium.

Oregon, despite having two punts blocked and two Vernon Adams Jr. passes intercepted in the end zone, celebrated a 44-28 victory over California on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.

“Despite all the things we did to kick ourselves in the gut, we never flinched,” Helfrich said. “That’s a good thing.”

The good news: Ian Wheeler punted twice. His long was for 5 yards and both blocks led to Cal touchdown drives.

“Frustrating but easy to fix,” Helfrich said.

Adams passed for 300 yards and four touchdowns.

The senior quarterback knows he won’t be able to get away with interceptions in the red zone next week at Stanford.

“I threw two interceptions, that’s unacceptable,” Adams said. “I’ve got to clean that up.”

Neal moves up

Secondary coach John Neal moved from the sideline to the press box for Saturday’s game, where he was joined by outside linebackers coach Erik Chinander.

Defensive coordinator Don Pellum remained on the sideline for his unit’s best performance of the season. Defensive line coach Ron Aiken was also on the bench, along with defensive backs graduate assistant coach Kwame Agyeman.

“I think their ability to communicate to each other and the players is what’s most important,” Helfrich said of the defensive staff. “There was a good back and forth of having everything seen as it had to be seen.”

Buckner dominates

DeForest Buckner played with a cast on his injured wrist, which he said was badly sprained after the Arizona State game, and finished with a team-high seven tackles, including a key sack in the red zone.

Redshirt freshman defensive end Jalen Jelks did not suit up. Eddie Heard started in place of Christian French (arm) at outside linebacker.

Starting safety Chris Seisay (foot) missed his seventh consecutive game and safety Juwaan Williams (foot) missed his second consecutive game after playing well in a start at Washington.

Familiar voice missing

Longtime public address announcer Don Essig was unable to attend Saturday’s game because of illness. Andy McNamara, Oregon’s assistant athletic director for communications, filled in.

Essig, best known for his “It never rains at Autzen Stadium!” introduction, missed only his second home game in 47 years.

Otis Day, best known for the “Shout!” song, announced Oregon’s starting lineups.

Notable

Cal still leads the all-time series 39-37-2 but fell to 6-16 in Eugene. … Tyree Robinson also had seven tackles, including a sack, and two pass breakups. … Scouts from nine NFL teams requested credentials for the game. … Jeremy Asher (1992-95) and Tim Day (2002-06) were Oregon’s honorary captains.

Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. leaps while trying to get the first down during the second half Saturday. AP PHOTO