Lavelle Hawkins returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and Justin Forsett ran for 152 yards and three scores in No. 8 California's 42-12 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Craig Stevens and Jahvid Best caught TD passes from Nate Longshore, who passed for 230 shaky yards as Cal (3-0) comfortably finished its nonconference schedule with its ninth straight win at Memorial Stadium. The Golden Bears shook off their letdown from a season-opening win over Tennessee with an improved defensive effort and several big plays from their offensive stars. Forsett had another outstanding game behind Cal's offensive line, finishing with a 1-yard stroll over the goal line with 9:46 left in the eighth 100-yard performance of his career. DeSean Jackson had just five catches for 28 yards and didn't come close to breaking loose on a punt return, but Hawkins showed the Bears' special-teams acumen isn't confined to Tha Chosen 1, as return wizard Jackson calls himself.
Hawkins, who also had seven catches for 87 yards, began his return with a fake reverse handoff before sprinting across the width of the field and down the opposite sideline. Cal hadn't returned the opening kickoff for a score since Deltha O'Neal did it in the Aloha Bowl in 1996, and hadn't returned any kickoff for a score since 2002. Zac Champion passed for 149 yards with two TDs and two interceptions for Louisiana Tech (1-2), which played fairly well against a ranked team for the second straight week under rookie coach Derek Dooley. The Bulldogs, who lost in overtime to No. 24 Hawaii last weekend, stayed close until two turnovers shortly before halftime allowed Cal to take control. Though Cal showed much more fire and precision than in last week's narrow road victory over Colorado State, not everything went well for the Bears. Longshore, the junior in his second full season as Cal's starter, had one of his worst performances, missing several open receivers and throwing an end-zone interception while going 22-for-33. Cal's offense struggled to move until midway through the second quarter, when Champion's fumble left them with a short field. Forsett, who rushed for 127 yards in the first half, scored from 2 yards out. Louisiana Tech finally got moving with a no-huddle offense, a strategy that also worked against Cal in the Bears' season-opening win over Tennessee. Joe Anderson caught his first TD pass for the Bulldogs late in the second quarter, but Forsett scored again on a 39-yard run before Brandon Hampton's interception return set up Stevens' 17-yard TD catch across the middle for a 28-6 lead 2:36 before halftime. Best, Cal's prized freshman tailback, took a screen pass 16 yards for his first career TD reception midway through the third quarter. Best also had an impressive 23-yard run on a reverse in the fourth quarter.
Running back Patrick Jackson caught a TD pass and ran for 68 yards for the Bulldogs, who failed on both of their extra-point attempts. Cal apparently lost linebacker Zack Follett to an undisclosed injury in the first half, and defensive lineman Matt Malele injured his foot in the second half.