Thursday, September 20, 2007

San Jose Mercury: This time, Hawkins hopes he won't trip on trip to end zone

Cal wide receiver will try to atone in Arizona rematch

By Jonathan Okanes

Don't bother asking Cal wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins how long it took him to forget about his stumble at the 1-yard line last season at Arizona.  "That bothers me to this day," he said. "I will never forget about that. That's going to follow me the rest of my life." The Bears were upset by the Wildcats 24-20 in Tucson, a loss that proved devastating after USC lost to UCLA at the end of the regular season. Cal ended up sharing the Pacific-10 championship with the Trojans, but the loss to Arizona ruined the Bears' chances of playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1959. With the Bears trailing 24-17 late in the game, Hawkins caught a long pass from quarterback Nate Longshore and had an open path to the end zone. But Hawkins tripped as he approached the goal line, and Cal then failed to score a touchdown from the 1. Running back Marshawn Lynch was stuffed on consecutive running plays, and Longshore's third-down pass fell incomplete. The Bears settled for a field goal. "I kind of took the blame on that game because if I would have scored that touchdown it probably would have been a whole different game," Hawkins said. "That was the worst loss I've ever had in my life." Cal hosts the Wildcats on Saturday, and the Bears are looking forward to the rematch. "We didn't play to the best of our abilities last year," Hawkins said. "I think a lot of guys are going to go out there and play hard because of what happened last year. That was embarrassing. It messed up our Rose Bowl."

• When the Wildcats beat Cal, it was part of a late-season three-game win streak that included two victories over ranked teams. But just when Arizona thought it was on to something, it lost to Arizona State in its season finale and was shut out of a bowl berth.  The Wildcats have lost two of their first three this season, including a 29-27 home setback to New Mexico last week.  "We've been kind of a Jekyll and Hyde team," Arizona Coach Mike Stoops said. "That just comes with maturity and consistency, and that's the last thing that usually comes in your program. Obviously, that is something that we have fought."

• Arizona, which was believed to have one of the top defenses in the Pac-10, ranks eighth in scoring defense at 24.3 points allowed per game. On the flip side, the Wildcats' new spread offense is producing a conference-best 321.3 passing yards per game.

• Cal running back Justin Forsett leads the Pac-10 in rushing at 122.3 yards per game.

• Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour planned to be in court for the duration of the trial over the university's proposed construction of a student-athlete high-performance center. Three plaintiffs, including the City of Berkeley, are attempting to stop plans for the facility because of safety and traffic concerns. On the eve of the trial Tuesday, Barbour said she is confident but also disappointed the issue wound up in the courts. "I'm not happy about going to trial," she said. "I think we've been more than generous in what we've agreed that we would do. I'm confident that all the facts line up behind us. I think the good money would be on us, because of the facts."


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