Monday, October 01, 2007

Oregon Daily Emerald: Bears stay golden by outlasting Ducks

This time, a replay didn't end in Oregon's favor.  The officials ruled against the No. 11 Ducks in the final seconds in its 31-24 loss to No. 6 Cal on Saturday in front of 59,273 fans, a new Autzen Stadium record.  What appeared to be a touchdown in the final seconds was ruled a fumble after Oregon wide receiver Cameron Colvin caught a pass and ran toward the end zone before he was held up by California defenders. Colvin tried to extend the ball beyond the goal line but the ball came out of his hands before entering the end zone. The officials conferred together before deciding that the ruling on the field was a touchback - which gave Cal the ball. Not wanting a repeat of the replay snafu in Oregon's victory last year against Oklahoma, the referees took their time with the review before upholding the call in Cal's favor.

"They had to get it right," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "We knew when we saw the replay on the big screen that we didn't think there was any way that could be overturned."  After gaining possession of the ball, Cal quarterback Nate Longshore took a knee, ending the game. "We gave it away in the end," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I think we're a little bit upset right now ... but we'll get through this."   Bellotti wasn't only talking about the fumble, but also two costly interceptions thrown by quarterback Dennis Dixon in the final five minutes. Each of Oregon's last three drives resulted in a turnover. "The turnovers were huge," Bellotti said. "Those are the undoing of a good football team."

He faulted Dixon for the first interception, saying it was a bad decision, while he called the second a good play by Cal defensive lineman Tyson Alualu. Bellotti, though, was happy to see Dixon take command in the final drive despite throwing consecutive interceptions. "Dennis came back again with no timeouts and took the ball the length of the field to put us in a position to score," Bellotti said. "We just need to take better care of the football." That fumble drew most of Bellotti's ire. "That's two straight weeks in a row we've had a receiver extend the ball," Bellotti said. "You can't do that. You have to hang on to the football, break the plane, make sure you have possession of the football." While Bellotti criticized Colvin, his teammates appreciated the effort on the play. They weren't about to fault him for the loss. "None of us are going to put the blame on anybody," linebacker John Bacon said. "Especially not Cameron."

Right tackle Geoff Schwartz was steaming about the loss and the fact that the call went against the Ducks, but even he wasn't going to start pointing fingers. "He's trying to make a play," Schwartz said. "You can't fault him at all." Rather, some of the players were willing to put the blame on themselves. Cornerback Jairus Byrd, who missed tackling Cal receiver DeSean Jackson, allowing a 31-yard touchdown, talked as if he and corner Walter Thurmond III, who also surrendered a touchdown to Jackson, gave the game away. "They read our defenses, knew what we were doing and hit the soft spots," Byrd said. "I had (Jackson) walled to the sideline, had my feet stopped, squared him in and thought I had him out of bounds. He just tip-toed down the sidelines." Sunday, Cal moved to the No. 3 position in the polls thanks to several top-10 teams losing Saturday, while Oregon slid three spots to No. 14. The Ducks enter their bye week hoping to keep spirits up despite the tough loss. "I think the week off is good," Bellotti said. "We need that from a physical standpoint."

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