Oregon woes continue as Cal scores first win
BERKELEY, Calif. — Oregon’s turnovers have been costly in recent weeks, and now the Ducks are hurting themselves with ill-timed penalties.
California cleaned up its mistakes and finally got a win.
Chase Garbers threw for a touchdown and ran for a short score, Muelu Iosefa made a late fumble recovery, and Cal handed Oregon its second straight loss with a 21-17 victory Saturday night.
No. 21 Oregon (3-2) got the ball back with 2:01 left and Tyler Shough marched the Ducks down the field, but his team gave the ball away once again in what has become a pattern for the Ducks this season.
“I see a team that’s really trying. I see a coaching staff that’s working their tails off,” coach Mario Cristobal said. “We haven’t done good enough the last two weeks.”
Garbers outshined young Oregon star Shough, who threw for 231 yards in his fifth time with 200-plus yards passing in as many career starts.
Shough’s 67-yard completion to Travis Dye in the final minute of the second quarter set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Cyrus Habibi-Likio that lifted the Ducks to a 17-14 halftime lead.
They didn’t score again.
“It was just us shooting ourselves in the foot,” Shough said. “We really just handed that game away at the end.”
Garbers completed 10 of his first 13 passes and wound up 20 of 32 for 183 yards for the Golden Bears (1-3), who had an extra-point attempt blocked in the waning moments of a 24-23 loss to rival Stanford in the Big Game last Friday on their home field.
Nikko Remigio’s 28-yard TD in the third was his longest reception of the season and his six catches were a season high. Makai Polk also made six receptions and Cal’s defense stopped the Ducks on fourth-and-1 at the Bears 18 early in the final quarter. Kuony Deng forced the late fumble by Johnny Johnson III that Iosefa recovered.
“Just being the second guy there I just wanted to get an opportunity to spit it out, and luckily it happened,” said Deng, who had the first two forced fumbles of his career.
Shough wound up 14 of 26. He lost a fumble after he throwing two interceptions in last week’s loss to Oregon State.
The Ducks dropped 12 spots from ninth in the AP poll this week. Losing to the Beavers cost Oregon whatever shot it had at a spot in the College Football Playoff after the team had been ranked 15th in the first CFP rankings.
A holding penalty by JH Tevis and Josh Drayden’s illegal block on Oregon’s second offensive series moved the Ducks to Cal’s 8, but they had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Henry Katleman.
Cal answered 13 plays later, converting two third downs on the way to Garbers’ 1-yard TD run.
The Bears overcame a false start penalty near the end of the first quarter then capitalized on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and pass interference by Oregon, going ahead 14-3 on Bradrick Shaw’s 1-yard TD run with 5:31 left in the first half. Garbers helped set up the score with a 21-yard scamper for his fifth career run of 20 or more yards.
Shaw scored his first career rushing touchdown to cap Cal’s longest drive of the season at 19 plays.
The Bears want to build on this and stay in the postseason mix.
“It’s a good thing any time we have some success and then are able to parlay that into more opportunities to play,” coach Justin Wilcox said.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
Cristobal stressed taking care of the ball, baffled by all the offensive mistakes leading to costly turnovers. There were five lost fumbles and four interceptions in the first four games.
The Ducks didn’t have a turnover until Shough’s lost fumble midway through the fourth, and then the other in the closing moments. But Oregon also committed penalties all game — nine for 60 yards in all.
These mistakes will certainly be evaluated going forward.
Late in the second quarter, offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu had consecutive penalties with a personal foul then a false start.
Oregon: The Ducks run defense held Cal to 88 yards rushing. ... Oregon hadn’t lost in the series since a 52-49, two-overtime defeat in Berkeley on Oct. 21, 2016, having won 10 of the last 11 against Cal overall. ... Oregon ran 26 plays in the first half to Cal’s 42. ... The Ducks lost for only the third time in their last 16 Pac-12 games. ... Under third-year coach Cristobal, Oregon lost in California for the first time (6-1). ... LB Noah Sewell went down hard with 3:34 left in the game.
California: The Bears didn’t score on their opening drive for the first time this season. ... Drayden notched his team-best fourth pass breakup this season and the 12th for his career. ... Garbers ran for his second TD of the season and seventh overall. ... Cal’s 19-play scoring drive was its longest since another of 19 plays vs. Oregon State in 2016.
Oregon returns home to host Washington next Saturday, while Cal travels to play at Washington State on Saturday.