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."