Sunday, October 14, 2007

SF Chronicle: Bad news, Bears: Shot at No. 1 gone

Cal's chance of being on top of the college football world died 10 yards short as the final seconds ticked off the clock.  Backup quarterback Kevin Riley scrambled into daylight that quickly disappeared on a play from the 12-yard line with 14 seconds remaining Saturday at Memorial Stadium. He was tackled at the 10-yard line and, with no timeouts left, he frantically darted to the sidelines. The field-goal unit couldn't get on the field in five seconds and Oregon State escaped with a 31-28 win over the second-ranked Bears.

"I knew there were 14 seconds left on the clock, and the initial read wasn't there," said Riley, who found out 10 minutes before the game that starter Nate Longshore's sprained right ankle was too sore to play. "I saw some green field, and I thought I could get around that guy. I was just using playing-ball instincts. "I was in the middle of the play. I just couldn't make one." That was about the only play Riley, a redshirt freshman, didn't make down the stretch. Trailing 31-21 with 3:26 remaining, he led one scoring drive, capped by a 64-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins, and was on the verge of another. After getting the ball back at the Bears' 6-yard line and with 1:27 remaining, he appeared poised to lead the game-tying or go-ahead drive. He connected with Hawkins for 19 yards on 4th-and-17, then hit Robert Jordan for 37 yards to Oregon State's 27. Riley's throw to DeSean Jackson drew a pass-interference call that set up the 1st-down play from the 12.

"Kevin played a gutsy game," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He did a very nice job of keeping his composure against a very good defense. ... It's not his fault whatsoever. He played his heart out, and we didn't lose because of that play." Tedford also stood by his decision to take one more shot at the end zone, instead of kicking the game-tying field goal with 14 seconds left. "Maybe you win the game," he said. "A lot of times you second-guess yourself, but I don't second-guess this one. We just didn't make the play." The Bears (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) haven't beaten Oregon State (4-3, 2-2) in Berkeley since 1997, and the Beavers won in their normal fashion. They were committed to the run, won the turnover battle and made the courageous plays that escaped the Bears.  Tailback Yvenson Bernard ran for 110 yards, including 82 after halftime. Quarterback Sean Canfield, who had thrown 13 interceptions in his first six games, didn't throw a pick, and Cal doubled its season total of fumbles with two more. The Beavers scored on two 4th-and-goal chances, and the Bears failed on four attempts from inside the 2-yard line. "It's disappointing when you're on the 1-yard line, and you can't punch it in," Tedford said. "You have to give Oregon State credit, but you've got to be able to knock the ball in the end zone there."

Trailing 20-14 and facing a 3rd-and-4 with Dorian Smith draped around his legs, Riley rifled one to tight end Craig Stevens for a 23-yard gain. Hawkins, who had nine catches for 192 yards, drew a pass interference in the end zone two plays later, but tailback Justin Forsett couldn't score on four consecutive carries. "That goes on my shoulders," said Forsett, who had 150 rushing yards and a touchdown. "Even when there are tight spaces there, I've got to find a way to squeeze in there." Oregon State didn't have the same problems. Down 21-20, coach Mike Riley opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Bernard, who had been stopped on three previous attempts from inside the 7, finally punched it in, and Canfield connected with Anthony Brown for the 2-point conversion for a 28-21 lead.

Cal freshman tailback Jahvid Best fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and a personal foul on defensive end Tyson Alualu pushed Oregon State into field-goal range. Kicker Alexis Serna, who earlier had drilled one from 52 yards, made the 33-yarder look easy as the Beavers went ahead 31-21. That set up Kevin Riley's chance at heroics. He was slapping hands and smiling as he led the final two drives.  "You could see him pick up some swagger," Forsett said. "I was having fun, you know?," said Riley, who went 20-for-34 with 294 yards and three scores (one rushing). "I thought we would go down there, get that drive and win the game. "The team just knew we were going to go down there and score, but it didn't work out for us."


Anonymous said...

Typical Cal. Heartbreak after a big tease. Heck, when they were ahead 21-20, everyone knew that they were going to lose. I think I developed an ulcer during this game. Shouldn't be surprised, I've seen it for forty years. Who gets the blame? Everyone. Even my wife, who knows little about football, was screaming "kick the field goal, kick the field goal." I agree that they should take a shot at the end zone, but take the shot or throw it away. Coaches needed to make that clear. Now, Cal is in trouble, NONE of the last six Pac-10 games are gimmees. They could end up 5-7. Anything is possible in the Pac-10. Maybe we should just hope for one more win, then at least they'll be bowl-eligible and maybe make another lesser bowl game. Can you say "Holiday Bowl?"

Harold Taw said...

Dude---you're seriously jaded. Riley played an awesome game. He's young and made an effort mistake in the very first game he started since high school. I was most impressed by how his teammates immediately gave him their support; and that held true for Coach Tedford too. Yes, we lost . . . but so have 10 other top-ten teams, including #1 this week and last week. This has been a crazy year and we made several uncharacteristic mistakes. If we keep our aggressive attitude, we're going to win a lot of games.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Riley played a heck of a game. Shame on the fans who blame him for the loss...and shame on the fans who left Memorial Stadium early. True Bears should know that anything can happen in those last seconds. We'll get them next time. GO BEARS!

Anonymous said...

Coach Tedford blew that game at the end, no doubt. Tedford GAMBLED big time rather than taking the sure thing...a chip shot field goal to send the game into overtime.

No smart coach would run a play with 14 seconds from scrimmage with an inexperienced QB and no timeouts and short field. Anything could have happened...missed assignment for a sack...bad snap...etc. Pin that loss at the end on TEDFORD, and nobody else. Stupid...really stupid.

Anonymous said...

Tedford has always shown confidence in his players- it's the classy thing to do and it's the way you build a consistent team. Giving Riley a shot at the endzone was trusting his QB and receivers. Sometimes things don't work out- and it sucks.

Riley made mistakes, but he looks very talented (and mobile, unlike Longshore). I still hope for Longshore back as soon as possible, but I expect the Cal team of the future starring Riley and Best to be just as competitive as the present team.

I hope Cal fans do not start with the bs you see at some SEC schools, where a 3 loss season leads to calls for a coach to be fired. Tedford is a great coach- there may be a case for bringing in more/new coaching for the defense, but Tedford has consistently turned out high powered offenses for Cal.

Anonymous said...

That was a heartbreak game right there, no doubt about it.

Am I dumbfounded? Absolutely.

Do I question the call? No. Fourteen seconds left is plenty of time, if we either make a completion or throw an incomplete pass. If it wasn't for Riley, we wouldn't have been there. W have not seen bears come from behind like this... we're always out front! Down 10, I though we had no chance of winning this game.

I will feel much better going into next season, and into the rest of this year, with Riley having some solid in-game experince. Humbling, hopefully, and not humiliating.

But here is the key: We still control our own destiny. We can still play for the Rose Bowl. The whole world -- everyone except for one anonymous poster -- knows that this isn't the "same old" Cal. We may lose some more games. We may end up losing to Oregon State and then throttling some hapless Big 10 opponent in the Rose Bowl, which would be plenty fine by me.

I'm not so old of a Blue that I'd rather see Rose Bowl before a national championship (I am a man, though I'm not yet 40) but first weve got to survuve this.

We survived last year's opening game loss, and then won eight straight. I'd be happy for seven more consecutive wins.

I'm pissed that we lost. But looking forward to the next game.


Anonymous said...

I agree with "miked" and "D".

You see coaches like Pete Carroll, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer gambling all the time; showing trust in their teams to get it done on fourth down or at the end of games. That's what gets teams believing in their coaches and in themselves. Tedford did that last night on Forsett's fourth-down run and Riley's third-down mini-debacle. It just didn't work out for us.

Had Tedford gone for the FG and Kay missed, we'd be second-guessing him for playing it safe too.

Finishing atop the Pac-10 and getting a berth in the Rose Bowl is still very possible, but not with a negative attitude. Remember where we were before Tedford ... things are just getting started. Go Bears!!

Anonymous said...

We're #10. I can live with that.

And if we can beat ASU and USC, and get by a confusing UCLA team next week, I'll like the way we'll look.

We've got the tiebreaker over Oregon, who are now #7.


Anonymous said...

Did you guys watch the same game I saw? Tedford cannot berate the boy publicly because he must depend on him for the next three years and wants to continue recruiting talented high school quarterbacks. I have the luxury of stating my mind.

The Cal game included a comedy of errors, inexcusable turnovers, and poor decision-making. The whole debacle was topped off by Riley's moronic season-destroying mistake. Why would you decide to scramble with 14 sec left and no time outs? We play Pac 10 football. The players are tough. What made him think he could push his way into the end zone? The answers are 1) ego, 2) lack of respect for his fellow players, and 3) a COMPLETE lack of preparation. He had two weeks to prepare for this game; did he even watch their tapes?

Once you decide to scramble and get tackled inbounds with the clock running, how do you decide to run off the field instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock? My friend coaches football for little 8 year old boys. Even they know better.

To those people who said Riley “played with heart”, I say, quite frankly, effort is not enough. It takes more than a good arm and “heart” to develop the level of Football Excellence that Cal supporters should demand.

Which reminds me, does anyone have any news on the 2008 recruits? We need a quarterback with basic football knowledge, a strategic mind, and an IQ above an amoeba.

Although I do not agree with the pessimistic outlook of Anonymous 1, I do think we have a long tough road ahead of us with no shot at the national championship predominantly thanks to Riley’s poor decision making.

Harsh but honest words from a very disappointed female true blue Cal Football fan…
Go Bears!

Anonymous said...

I am a strong Tedford supporter. He will build a Cal football dynasty. I applaud his 4th down attempt to punch it into the end zone (even though it failed), his less than conservative tactics, and the progress he has made while at Cal. However, Tedford made two critical mistakes yesterday that cost Cal the game.

1) Not challenging OSU forward pass that occurred passed the line of scrimmage
2) Trusting a freshman to make the correct strategic decision when the game was on the line. When I saw them line up for the play but before they snapped the ball, I told my friend that it was a poor decision to let the RS Freshman snap the ball one more time instead of setting up for the field goal attempt. The risk vs. reward was too great. If the QB was a season veteran, I would say, yes, go for it; however, Riley was just too green. My friend argued with me until he saw Riley run past the line of scrimmage. He went silent mid-sentence and did not say a word for 3 minutes.

The outcome of the game was disappointing but I for one am looking forward to the rest of the season. I hope Tedford can pull our boys out of this hole.

Anonymous said...

In an infinantly long game, the better team always wins. Therefore, Cal, the better team, should have kicked the field goal sending the game into overtime.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


VERY FEW COACHES WOULD HAVE TRIED TO FORCE A PLAY IN THAT SITUATIONS...(Except maybe a 41 point underdog Stanford playing #1 USC on the road...).





Anonymous said...

Cal is now #12 in the BCS, with ASU and Oregon above (at 8 and 10, respectively) and USC in the top 15 (at #14). We can go up from 12.

Moreover, we can still get to the Rose Bowl.

And I'd rather have Riley leading and Tedford calling the plays than turn things over to the passle of blowhards, above, whose idiotic second guessing is way overblown.


Anonymous said...

ok, i sit here and read these comments and almost want to puke. Going for a final play was right, damn talk about back seat driving. After what tedford has built here, you have got to be kidding me that your going to second guess him now. A little inexperience unfortunatly did them in, but a hell of a game was played by riley. From #1 to done is a damn joke. Get longshore healthy and lets win the pac-10, hell i like our chances even if riley remains at ucla. Quit crying and be a fan of this great ride where on. You wanted number one, well i want pac-10 champions. I will wait on number one for later before i get as spoiled as the rest of you. Turnovers will ruin any team, just chill and let the season play out. Roses are the key, this is not a one and bust type season.

Seiya said...

You think Riley lost the game, or Tedford? What about Forsett's fumble? Or Best's fumble? Or the missed block that led to the interception? Or the inability to score from first-and-goal at the 2? Or the missed field goal, or the screwed-up squib kick, or... Any one of those goes our way, we win or at least go to OT.

Anonymous said...

Alex wins the counterfactual contest.

Many missed opportunities.

Of course, also many things we did well (or that went well) that kept us close. Riley tossed one crazy ball that seemed INSANE until he hooked up with our tight end, who dragged what seemed like the whole OSU team for about ten yards.

Clearly I'm free associating...

The first and goal at their two is one clear time when we missed Longshore. Tedford showed faith in Forsett, and our O-line, with those calls, but it would have been nice to have mized it up with play action on one of the downs. Hve to think Longshore would have got it in there. Riley might have, too, but he's just getting his legs. He'll get there, and be good for us in the long run.


Anonymous said...

Oregon State Torrent

Here it is guys. Its slow and there's no seeders yet because it was only posted hours ago.

Anonymous said...

For all 'the season is over' fans - stay home. The most annoying thing for me at the game was a large crowd of attendees behind me chanting (near middle of the 4th quarter mind you) 'we want Longshore, we want Longshore' - as if there was a choice! Obviously if Longshore was available, he would have been in - but he wasn't. As for me, we are still playing for a Pac-10 championship and Rosebowl - so the season if far, far, far from over.

Tedford shows confidence in his players - as all championship coaches do. Les Miles gambles 5 times on 4th down - and he is a genius vs. Florida. Carroll gambles on 4th down against us last year with the score tied 9-9 and USC scores the momentum changing TD and wins the game. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't (Carroll went for it on 4th down in the waning moments against Texas in the NC Game and they didn't get it). I think most championship caliber coaches take the shot at the endzone with 14 seconds left.

For those who say Tedford should have told Riley to throw the ball away - do you honestly think it didn't come up? Even Riley says the initial read wasn't there and then he took off because the instincts took over. I'm sure it was emphasized to take the first look or throw it away - he just didn't.

Finally, for those of you wanting to run Riley out of town - did he play above or below your expectations when he took the field for his first snap and we all found out Longshore couldn't go? I know 20 of 34, 294 yards, 2TD's 1 INT and a rushing TD were way beyond my expectations. I for one came away feeling pretty good about the future at the QB spot.

And for those who are certain that after this loss, we are headed toward a losing season or only a minor bowl game, if you are right, then this loss doesn't matter anyway, because we were bound to lose several games this year anyway - so we should have set our sights on the Emerald Bowl at the start of the season and we are right on track.

We have 6 games left and this season can still be a special one. The 'one and done, fire Tedford and crucify Riley' crowd can leave now. The rest of us can still dream, cheer and make plans for New Year's Day in Pasedena.

Go Bears!

Unknown said...

Going for it with 14 seconds to go was the right play. No doubt. Questionable call of the day was giving them a short field on a squib kick at the end of the first half. OSU had all three time outs and have an all-world field goal kicker. All they needed was 30 yards. If we'd kicked deep, it would have been much tougher to get to field goal range. We handed them three points for no reason. What was the strategy behind that stupid call? Not that three points made a difference...oh wait...

Listen, to get to the Rose Bowl we should have always assumed we'd have to win out. Same still holds true today. Win the rest, and we're Pasadena bound. Simple as that. We lose again, than we deserve our fate. That's why they play the games.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

After 55 years of watching Cal football, I assure you the OS game was classic Bears. "Ops. Uh oh. No no! Oh God, no! Oh my God, not again! Oh, s....! Well, no Rose Bowl this year. Let's see what Rugby looks like."

What I cannot figure is how guys playing for Cal at present seem to know instinctively what football at Berkeley was like in the past, and then they play like that. They have never seen the center hike the ball clear over the punter's head, TWICE IN ONE GAME. They have never seen off-tackle right, off-tackle left, up the center, punt. They have never seen the back fumble the ball with no opponent within 5 yards of him. I assure you there is no limit to the variations on Cal's propensity to goof things up. But how do the current team members know this?

Hmmm. Maybe, secretly they are taught this. Yeah, that's it. The flubs are intentional, a great big secret practical joke. This is meant to be humorous.

Anonymous said...

There is an old cliche (and because it is old and cliche, it must be tired, too), but it seems to suit the situation.

Let's see how the Bears handle adversity. Let's see how they handle the loss. The got knocked down. Will they get up again?

Last year, Oregon got beat down and then floundered. This year, Oregon last a close game to a good team and then came back to absoltely throttle Washington State.

Last year, USC lost to OSU on the way to a Rose Bowl season (and then had a very satisfying blow out victory for the Pac 10).

This year?

Let's see. Anything is possible.